Online Exhibition - Roger Ballen: Works from 'Asylum' & 'Die Antwoord'

9 January - 5 February 2014

Sneeky Hands, 2012

From 'Die Antwoord' series

Archival pigment print

11 x 13 3/4 in.

Edition of 50

© Roger Ballen

Hamiltons presented the first of our online exhibitions, Roger Ballen: Works from Asylum and Die Antwoord. Exclusively online, the exhibition included a selection of works from Asylum, Ballen's newest series, and introduced Die Antwoord, photographs from his collaboration with the rap-rave group on their music video 'I Fink U Freeky'.


American-born Roger Ballen has been living and working in South Africa for over thirty years, photographing those living on the borders of society in remote towns. His journalistic and empathetic approach constructs compelling psychological imagery, blurring the lines between art and documentary.


Asylum, described by Ballen as 'documentary fiction', confronts the viewer to think beyond the apparent and to question their own psyche. In comparison to his previous works, these images comprise little human presence; humans are inferred, replaced by effigies, drawings, lines and, notably, birds. Ballen has commented on the environment as inspirational, "On closer inspection, the images can be seen to elicit metaphors from the interaction of the birds (a symbol of purity, heavenliness, freedom and peace) with the space characterized by chaos, darkness and human detritus."


In 2012 Ballen directed the South-African band Die Antwoord's music video 'I Fink U Freeky' (view on youtube here), where his distinct visual input is indisputable. The video has, to date, been viewed over 127 million times online. This series of black and white images, in editions of 50, comprise photographs from the five-day video shoot in Johannesburg. Ballen created his visual world and Die Antwoord inhabited it, a rare example of a successful collaboration between contemporary art and music.