American, born 1950
Roger Ballen is known for his disquieting psychological portraits of rural inhabitants on the fringes of South African society. Ballen, who worked as a geologist and mining consultant before starting his career as a photographer, found inspiration for his work in the people he encountered as a mining prospector in the small villages of rural South Africa. Since then, his work has moved beyond observation and documentation toward abstraction and complex narratives. Often photographing at a warehouse for transients on the outskirts of Johannesburg, the photographs move beyond human subjects, and embark on an imaginative physiological journey, which blur the lines of fact or fiction.
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 Ballenesque: Roger Ballen, A Retrospective (2017), Roger Ballen: Resurrected (2016), The Theatre of Apparitions (2016), Asylum of the Birds (2014), Lines, Marks, and Drawings: Through the Lens of Roger Ballen (2013), Photographs 1969-2009 (2011), Animal Abstraction (2011), Boarding House (2009), Shadow Chamber (2005), Platteland (1994), Dorps (1986), and Boyhood (1979). 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.