Between 1986 and 1994, Roger Ballen created disquieting psychological portraits of
rural inhabitants on the fringes of South African society. He worked as a geologist and
mining consultant before starting his career as a photographer; the people he encountered
as a mining prospector in the small villages of rural South Africa became the main
focus of his photographs. Since then, his work has moved beyond observation and
documentation toward abstraction and complex narratives, culminating in his most recent
series, Boarding House. Taken at a curious warehouse for transients on the outskirts
of Johannesburg, the photographs move beyond human subjects, and embark on an
imaginative physic journey that calls into question fact and fiction.
Roger Ballen has lived and worked in Johannesburg, South Africa for more than 30
years. In 2001, Ballen’s book Outland won the Best Photographic Book of the Year at
PhotoEspaña. Ballen’s other monographs include Platteland, Dorps, Shadow Chamber,
and Boarding House. Ballen’s photographs are included in the collections of the
Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; the Victoria &
Albert Museum, London; and the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam.
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