Roger Ballen’s photography is part of a psychological and existential journey towards defining himself. He has been shooting black and white film for nearly 50 years and enjoys that, unlike color, it can allow for abstraction and minimalism to interpret what one might refer to as reality.
This image of the twins Dresie & Casie is from Platteland: Images from Rural South Africa, a seriesthat focuses on the inhabitants of small rural towns, in this case, Western Transvaal. It is one of his most famous and controversial photographs and has both fascinated and repelled viewers. Ballenís way of emphasizing the grotesqueness in this image has drawn overt criticism, but he has also maintained that his matter-of-fact, unsentimental approach leads to images that dignify, rather than disparage, their subjects. Additionally, we too also complicit in the power that this image generates. Ballen approaches his subjects with empathy and the eye of a photojournalist, bringing to life the precarious lives of the people who live in this unseen countryside.
Roger Ballen (Johannesburg, South Africa) received his Masters of Science in geology and his Doctorate in Mineral Economics from the University of Colorado. He has had various solo shows at gallery and museum locations across the globe, including, Fotografiska (Stockholm, Sweden), Smithsonian Africa Museum (Washington, DC), Tel Aviv Museum of Art (Tel Aviv, Israel), Manchester Art Museum (United Kingdom), and others. His work has also been featured in group shows at Brundyn and Gonsalves (Cape Town, South Africa), Haifa Museum (Haifa, Israel), Gagosian Gallery (NYC), National Gallery of Modern Art (Bengaluru, India), and others. Rogerís work can also be found in the permanent collections of many highly regarded museums such as Art Gallery of New South Wales (Sydney, Australia), Berkeley Museum of Art (Berkeley, CA), Museum of Modern Art (NYC), Tate Britain (United Kingdom), and others. His work has been reviewed and featured in Aperture and ArtForum. He was the recipient of photography awards from the Lucie Foundation, PhotoEspana, Artforum, Unicef, Recontres díArles, Photo-eye, Sani Festival and many others. His monographs include Photo Pache (France, 2012), Animal Abstraction (REFLEX Amsterdam, 2011), Roger Ballen Photographs 1969-2009 (Kerber Valag, Bielefeld, 2010), Boarding House (Phaidon Press, 2009), Shadow Chamber (Phaidon Press, 2005), Outland (Phaidon Press, 2001), Cette Afrique la (Editions Nathan Paris,2007), Platteland- Images of Rural South Africa (William Waterman Publications 2004, Quartet Books 2004, and St Martins Press 2004), and Dorps – Smalls Towns of South Africa (Clifton Publications, South Africa 1986).