Roger Ballen is the William Faulkner of image-makers. His work is in the collections of over 20 museums yet the general public does not know much about him. He still shoots film. He mines the areas between sculpture and photography, darkness and the light. His photos are some of the richest in all of art. He makes his work in places in South Africa where the police will not go near; Hell on earth kind of places. His disturbing work grabs the back of your brain and won’t let go. Right now he is everywhere. Check out why he has blown the doors off the art and photo world. Maybe the most powerful work ever done by any artist. To understand the environments he frequents, and thus his pictures, you have to see the video above first…
“Photography is like going into the mineshaft”
“What I am doing is about visual relationships not stories…”
On his project: Aslyum for the Birds:
Asylum has two main meanings in the English language; the first is a place where insanity prevails and the second describes a place of refuge. In some ways those are very opposing meanings. In ‘Asylum of the Birds’, the asylum is place where animals and people live together away from the outside world. It’s a very claustrophobic, surreal and strange place yet, at the same time, what’s going on in this place is abnormal – it comes from deeper levels of the subconscious, but I don’t equate those deeper levels with insanity.
Excerpt from his talk at the George Eastman House: The Shadow Chamber
The Photographs of Roger Ballen