ROGER BALLEN AND BOARDING HOUSE 6 NOVEMBER 2010 TO 17 APRIL 2011
The photographs of Roger Ballen stand apart from those of his contemporaries in their intensity and beauty, their enigmatic quality and sense of impending violence. Born in the United States, Roger Ballen grew up with the work of great modern photographers, through his mother’s work with Magnum and her gallery in New York. Ballen’s photography in South Africa began when he started travelling through ‘dorps’ (small rural towns), where rural white communities showed evidence of poverty and social collapse. Although continuing to use many of the same people as subjects, in the late 1990s he began to work less in a documentary style and more like a choreographer or director. In Ballen’s most recent body of work, Boarding House, his photographs evince a sense of the theatrical, a tension between the fictional and constructed, and that which is absolutely real and present at the moment he exposes the photograph. In the imaginative worlds that Ballen creates, puppies, rats, wire, drawings and old furniture perform roles within the claustrophobic confines of a door-less stage that are part-tragic, part-comedic, and wholly disturbing. The Iziko SA National Gallery shows Boarding House together with a small show of photographs from earlier bodies of work, including Dorps, Outland and Shadow Chamber.
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