Roger Ballen

Roger Ballen has been represented by Hamiltons Gallery for eight years. Ballen’s work blends performance, immersion and documentary styles of photography, disturbing the viewer’s sense of reality. Ballen lives and works in South Africa and is in museum collections across the globe.

Roger Ballen
Untitled (girl's head and bird), 2011
Archival pigment print
19 3/4 x 19 3/4 in.
Edition of 12
© Roger Ballen

The newest series of work by Roger Ballen is Asylum of the Birds; described by the photographer himself as 'documentary fiction'. These black and white images confront the viewer to think beyond the apparent, and question their own psyche. He cleverly distorts the lines between reality and fantasy, crafting a sense of ambiguity and contradiction.

 

In comparison to his previous works, these images comprise little human presence. Ballen began phasing out his use of the human body in the last series Boarding House, using only hands and feet rather than the full body. Within Asylum, the human is merely hinted at, and is replaced by disfigured or decaying effigies. Alongside his continual use of lines, through corners, coat hangers, and wires, the recurring presence of a white bird can be noted in this series - perhaps providing a trace of relief and calm.

 

 "Rituals and theater permeate the claustrophobic confines of Ballen's surrealistic and recent photographic series Asylum… the images… can be interpreted as evoking a place of hope and freedom as well as a locus of chaos, darkness and despair." (Craig Allen Subler, 'Lines Marks and Drawings: Through the Lens of Roger Ballen', National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, p.8-9)

 

Watch Roger Ballen's film Asylum of the Birds here