NO JOKE / ROGER BALLEN & ASGER CARLSEN

The mind is able to deform any perception given by nature; the senses are altered by the hidden desire to transform that separates us from a prefabricated reality to be induced in our own substance. Conceived in a period of 3 years, the “NO JOKE” series by Roger Ballen (United States, 1950) and Asger Carlsen (Denmark, 1973) incorporates a never-before-seen body of work through the dialogue of two of contemporary photography’s most unusual perspectives. Combining the visual elements and techniques for which they are renowned worldwide, the compelling compositions in the series are a distorted reflection of the human psyche and the personal identity that is fragmented through individual perception. Reviving the concept of the “exquisite corpse” coined by Surrealism, the works that constitute the series were composed through a virtual correspondence between both artists.   Altering between a complex digital edition and analog techniques such as collage and drawing, the disturbing compositions in the series are able to penetrate into the subconscious to question the fundaments of what we consider to be reality in our technological world. Incorporating aspects ranging from animals to intricate scenarios, the works in the series stand out for their unusual synergy that aims to play with the spectrum of an alternate reality. Throughout the series we can appreciate diverse themes that are intrinsically linked to the psychological focus that both artists explore individually in their work. Adopting the role of creator and model, both artists appear portrayed throughout the series using their identities as a canvas ready to be deformed by the effects of this surreal universe through which they incite the spectator’s reflection. The limits of the subconscious don’t have a place within this dimension where the sinister and the childish coexist in harmony, to decipher the metaphors and symbolisms that entail this series we must allow ourselves to be absorbed by the madness in the self.