Roger Ballen - Boarding House
Exhibition: 21 April to 29 May, 2010
It is difficult to explain this place except that I think it exists in some way or another in most people’s mind.
South African-based photographer Roger Ballen is included in the 17th Biennale of Sydney line up of artists. Ballen's disquieting images, which combine challenging social commentary and dream-like surrealism, will be exhibited on Cockatoo Island. To coincide with the Biennale exhibition Ballen's most recent series Boarding House will be on show at Stills Gallery 21 April - 29 May 2010 alongside a selection of works from his earlier Outland series.
Roger Ballen’s photographs are like images from a waking dream: compelling and thought-provoking, with layers of rich details, flashes of dark humour, and an altered sense of place. They blur the boundaries between documentary photography and art forms such as painting, theatre and sculpture, challenging the ways in which we perceive the ‘reality’ of photography.
Similar to his critically acclaimed series Outland and Shadow Chamber, Boarding House is a journey of discovery in which we leave our ordinary selves behind and confront a primitive part of the human condition and its psyche. Whether the place is real or imaginary is both indecipherable and irrelevant. It is a place where Ballen’s subconscious and the viewer’s inhibitions can meet.
Boarding House is Ballen’s most formally sophisticated work to date. The tableaux have a greater emphasis on drawn and sculptural elements, and the sense of collaboration between the artist and his subjects is increasingly relevant. He depicts a space of transient residence, of comings and goings, of people sheltered in a place they are using for their immediate survival. The altered sense of place of this temporary abode creates a sense of alienation, which acts as a jumping off point for the imagination to run wild.
Roger Ballen was born in New York in 1950 and lives and works in Johannesburg, South Africa. His work is represented in museum collections including the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, Centre Pompidou, Paris, and the Museum of Modern Art, New York. His work has been the subject of exhibitions at international institutions including the State Museum of Russia, St. Petersburg, 2004; Bibliotheque National, Paris, 2006; Deichtorhallen, Hamburg, 2007 and La Triennale di Milano, 2009. This is his second exhibition at Stills Gallery.