Ballan on Film
Ballen on Film is a retrospective exhibition showcasing nine films of which Roger Ballen was either the subject, the inspiration, the writer, producer or director. It documents his development as he moved from photographing the exterior to the interior psyche; from straightforward photographs to all-out stage productions with props and drawings; and from documentary photographer to music video director for Die Antwoord.
The common denominator in all the films is an aspect of Ballen’s work that is sometimes overlooked, a dark humour (especially apparent in the almost whimsical Theatre of Apparitions). Yes, the films are disturbing and violent and haunting, but also hypnotic and comical. Ballen says of his images that they take you to a world that has for many been inaccessible. The question is, do you want to enter this world? Come and decide for yourself.
FotoZA is elated to show all nine films together in one space for the first time. Along with posters, catalogues and books, there will also be limited edition Ballenesque skateboards available for purchase. Yes, skateboards.
“Everything in Ballenworld is out-of-kilter, makeshift, shadowy and unreal, including the human beings” Sean O’Hagan, The Guardian
“… Roger Ballen has long been excavating and creating parallel worlds. His theater of photography probes the psyches of man and animal and the anomalies of earth.” Barbara Rose ArtNews
“My pictures are not like anyone’s. They have nothing to do with any particular society; they have more to do with the human mind—the subconscious mind.” Roger Ballen
- Opening 2 August at 18h30 – FotoZA Gallery in Rosebank
- Runs from 2 – 31 August 2018
Projectors sponsored by Canon
Ballenesque portrays the world of artist/photographer Roger Ballen. In eight segments the video reveals important elements that predominate his aesthetic. This Video has been released simultaneously with the Thames and Hudson publication – Ballenesque, Roger Ballen: A Retrospective. This publication is a personal account of Roger Ballen’s career to date, including rare and privileged insights into Ballen’s photographic practice and contains iconic and unpublished imagery. Available from the Thames & Hudson website and Amazon.
Theatre of the Mind 2016
A psychological thriller set in a zone between sanity and insanity, dream and reality, the film takes Ballen’s work to the next level.
Theatre of Apparitions 2016
An animated theatre of dismembered people, beasts and ghosts, dance, tumble, make love and tear themselves apart, a nightmarish subconscious world, in black and white. This film accompanies his recent Thames and Hudson book The Theatre of Apparitions released in 2016.
To celebrate the rerelease of his seminal book Outland, Roger Ballen had film maker Ben Jay Crossman take us on a journey to the Outland to show us the mind inside the mind.
Is Roger Ballen’s work a faithful chronicle of strange lives in South Africa’s outsider communities, or a journey into his own troubled psyche? Sean O’Hagan, The Guardian
Asylum of the Birds 2014
To mark the publication of his long-awaited new monograph, Asylum of the Birds, photographer Roger Ballen, with director Ben Crossman, has produced this psychologically powerful, unforgettable film that follows Roger into a world synonymous with his photographs, as never before seen on film.
The Asylum 2013
(Produced by Saskia Vredeveld) The Asylum is a powerful metaphor for the relationship between mankind and animals. The film narrative is shot in an environment that mirrors the strange, complex and surrealistic world of Roger Ballen. A man, a woman and a child are looking for a refuge in a disconsolate world of concrete. They have lost their ability to communicate with each other and the self-chosen refuge gradually turns out to a place where people and animals are condemned to live with each other.
I Fink U Freeky 2012
I Fink U Freeky is a music video which features a collaboration between Die Antwoord and Roger Ballen. Die Antwoord consists of Ninja, Yo-Landi Vi$$er and DJ Hi-Tek, who have been together since 2008. They describe themselves as a “fresh, futuristic, flame-throw-flow-freeking zef rap rave krew from the dark dangerous depths of Afrika.” This video accumulated nearly 120 million hits on you tube.
Memento Mori 2005
(Produced by Saskia Vredeveld) Memento Mori is a compelling visual experience that parallels Roger Ballens award-winning photography book Shadow Chamber. Filmed in a darkened space it is not clear whether we are encountering the insane, imprisoned or if we are in a fictional environment. The viewer is left guessing about this world and questioning their own psyche, the dark and even the lighter side.
After the release of Roger Ballen’s book, Platteland, Images from Rural South Africa, The Southbank Show in London, UK, went back with Roger Ballen to capture the unique essence of the small towns and their people.
For his book, Ballen has photographed his subjects on their own terms, in the intimacy of their homes, with friends and family, and even their pets. The images, though devoid of excess, stripped to their essence, are deceptively simple.
Roger Ballen is one of the most important photographers of his generation. He was born in New York in 1950 but has been living and working in South Africa for over 30 years.
Over the past thirty years his distinctive style of photography has evolved using a simple square format in stark and beautiful black and white. In his earlier works his connection to the tradition of documentary photography is clear but through the 1990s he developed a style he describes as ‘Ballenesque’.
In his recent series he has employed drawings, painting, collage and sculptural techniques to create elaborate sets. Ballen has invented a new hybrid aesthetic in these works but one still rooted firmly in photography.
In September 2017 Thames & Hudson released Ballenesque, Roger Ballen: A Retrospective, a major retrospective of his collected works.