Roger Ballen

Roger Ballen (New York, United States, 1950) is recognized throughout the world as one of the most relevant composers of contemporary photography thanks to his prolific work that reveals aspects of society and the human psyche that few have dared to explore. Trained as a psychologist and a geologist, Ballen’s approach to photography is one of self-taught nature that was encouraged by his mother who was an editor in the Magnum agency in the 60s. It wasn’t until the 70s after 5 years of traveling between Cairo and Cape Town that he settled in the city of Johannesburg where the apartheid had severely divided society and it’s racial ideologies. While roaming the villages outside of Johannesburg or “dorps” (as they are locally referred to) Ballen had the opportunity to get acquainted with the most afflicted side of South-African society and thus discovered his interest to bare the psyches of these characters who had been exiled and ignored by twists of faith. Beyond being a sociopolitical discourse, Ballen’s purpose by interacting and portraying these characters is one that comes from existentialism and the desire to reveal another layer of the human being that can be related to the “dark side” or the hidden side of the personality coined by Carl Jung. With a career span of more than 50 years, Ballen’s work has evolved to the point of incorporating drawings and sculptural installations into his abnormal compositions that approach human psychology from a very deep perspective. Ballen’s work has been exhibited worldwide in multiple occasions and it belongs to renowned institutional collections such as the Centre Georges Pompidou (Paris, France), the MoMa in Nueva York, the TATE in London, the Fotomuseum (Munchen, Alemania), the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, to name a few. Among his multiple series is “NO JOKE” realized in collaboration with Danish photographer Asger Carlsen, a never-before-seen body of work that combines photography with digital editing and analog techniques such as collage and drawing.