Roger Ballen – Bio

"He has taken a medium known for its apparent factuality and singularity of vision and has transformed it into a vehicle portraying pluralism, relativism and the mortal struggles of our modern souls. Little more can be expected of art."

Robert A Sobieszek, Shadow Chamber (Phaidon Press, 2005)

Roger Ballen is an internationally acclaimed and award-winning photographer. He was born in New York and lives in Johannesburg, South Africa, where he takes striking photographs made with people on the fringes of society. His images are ambiguous and often disturbing, and are shot through with flashes of dark humour. They walk the line between documentary photography and fine art, offering both challenging social commentary and dream-like surrealism.

In 2016, a major survey show titled Theatre of the Mind was staged in the underground cells of Sydney College of the Arts, a former psychiatric hospital. In 2013, MONA presented Ballen’s Asylum and Apparitions, and, in 2009, the Art Gallery of Western Australia toured Roger Ballen: Brutal, Tender, Human, Animal. Ballen’s first exhibition in Australia was presented at Stills in 2006, and the gallery showcased Boarding House in 2010 to coincide with Ballen’s participation in the 17th Biennale of Sydney.

Ballen’s work has featured in prestigious institutions and festivals worldwide, recently including Athens Photo Festival (2016); Central Academy of Fine Art Museum, Beijing (2016); The Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, USA (2013). His work is represented in key collections, such as the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, Centre Pompidou, Paris, Museum of Modern Art, New York, and the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney.

Ballen and Die Antwoord’s music video I find you freeky (2012) won the Music Video Grand Prix award at the Curtas Vila do Conde International Film Festival in Portugal and the Best Music Video award at the International Film Festival of the Art of Cinematography, Plus Camerimage. Ballen’s work is reproduced in the hardback monographs, Asylum (2014), Boarding House (2009), Shadow Chamber (2005) and Outland (2001).