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Roger Ballen, 2014 © Marguerite Rossouw

The New York-born photographer, Roger Ballen - who has been based in South Africa for over thirty years now- is one of the most recognized and innovative photographers of his generation.


The son of a Magnum Photo editor, Roger Ballen became involved in photography at the age of thirteen. After graduating with a degree in psychology from the University of California, Berkeley in 1972, he did a PhD in Mineral Economics, which he completed in 1982. It was at this point that Ballen decided to buy a 6x6 Rolleiflex. The square format of this camera characterises his photography - it constitutes a perfect form in which all dimensions are equally represented.


Producing mainly black and white photographs, Ballen masters this medium. He uses his camera to capture something both radical and indescribable: the psyche. Images are first set up and then photographed - they look to reveal the innermost part of our being. Archetypes rise to the surface, more or less abruptly, and are prevalent in the images. As mysterious as they are explicit, Ballen's works trigger epiphanies, moments enabling his spectators to grasp the inexplicable. 


Roger Ballen was born in New York in 1950. In 1982, he moved to Johannesburg where he still lives and works today. His first photography book, Boyhood, was published in the late 1970s, followed by Dorps in 1986, Platteland in 1994 and Outland in 2001, among others. His most recent series, Asylum of the Birds, was published by Thames & Hudson in March 2014. Among his many awards, he won the Rencontres d'Arles in 2002 and the Art Directors Club Award in 2006. His I Fink U Freeky video also won the award for best video at the Portuguese festival Short Vila do Conde International Film Festival in 2012. Roger Ballen's works are included in several of the most important contemporary art collections in the world, including the Tate Britain collection, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and the Maison Européenne de la Photographie in Paris.


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