Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Roger Ballen

Having just mentioned Roger Ballen the other day I came across an interview/podcast with him on Lensculture

From the Lensculture intro:

"Ballen’s photographs are beautiful because of the richness of light, the
abundance of textures, the surreal archetypal imagery and dream-like
juxtapositions. They are complex pictures, exquisitely composed, printed to
near-perfection — and almost always they hold some tension that lingers long
after the first gaze...

The images are obviously staged, but they are troubling in their brutal raw
reality. Ballen uses recurring themes and props: wire, shadows, dirty feet,
soiled bed sheets, filthy walls, boxes with rough holes cut out, crude drawings
cover many surfaces. Junk is piled on junk. People and animals are in awkward,
dangerous and absurd positions.

It would be easier to swallow if we could
think of the characters as models or actors, following stage directions. But
very many of these images seem too real. The characters look like they are
really strung out on the far edges of ordinary life...

Ballen is very open and generous in our interview. At the end he says,
“Do we live in a world of order or chaos? That’s a pretty important
question to deal with.”

— Jim Casper

I was just talking with someone who went to his talk at the NY Photo Festival last year. They said it was one of the most stimulating and thought provoking talks invloving photogrpahy htye had been to in a long time. It was apparently mor elike a performance piece than just a talk, alhtough one where the perfmormer wasn't really performing, rather, presenting themselves.

Go take a look and a listen on lensculture - definately worth it.
along with a god few of his photographs

(All photographs Roger Ballen)


Anonymous said...

Ok. At first glance, Roger Ballen’s photographs scare the hell out of me. I hate it, that first photograph. But, for some reason, I just can’t look away. It’s so raw, so frightening, and so real…? I can’t quite tell. It would certainly be something I would never want to stumble across in real life. The detail is stunning, though I can’t quite appreciate it enough because of the size of the file, and the contrast is beautiful. The shots, all three of them unique in their own ways, are so thought-provoking. What exactly was he smoking to create these photographs? What is their intention, to frighten? To amuse? They are dangerous, nightmarish.

“The art of Roger Ballen is impossible to forget. It goes deep. Gets at places we didn’t know were there. Maybe hoped weren't there. It makes us wild.” –Excerpt from his website

Just finished browsing through his website and image collection. I was actually afraid of what I might find, but as I went through the galleries, I found to like Boarding House and Shadow Chamber best. Photographs right out of a child’s worst nightmare. Like peering under their bed at night and actually finding the monsters.

Anonymous said...

This is a commentary on the second image with the boy without a shirt who is holding a stick and wearing a mask on his face while simultaneously putting his hand print all over what I assume to be his mother's white walls. It's rather playful and reminds me of all the things of was forbidden to do as a child. I simply respect this guy for going through with his desires and abilities to question and act even when he knows punishment is around the corner. That mode of thinking in people gets stuff done. It could also cause chaos, but from chaos new theories are developed. It's good to see that he isn't appearing nervous in his deed but instead enjoying his sweet time. I'd be doing it in a rush of adrenaline--praying not to get caught. Technically sound nostalgic image. Contextually it makes me jealous, as I was a timid child.