Born in the US and based in Johannesburg, South Africa, Roger Ballen is one of the most important photographers of his generation. He has published over 25 books internationally and has collections in the most prominent museums in the world.
His most recent publication is entitled Roger the Rat and was published by Hatje Cantz in 2020. In 2017 Thames and Hudson published his book Ballenesque, Roger Ballen – A Retrospective, a major retrospective of his collected works. Recently Thames and Hudson released a second volume in paperback.
His oeuvre, which spans five decades, began with the documentary photography field but evolved into the creation of distinctive fictionalized realms that also integrate the mediums of film, installation, theatre, sculpture, painting and drawing. Ballen describes his works as “existential psychodramas” that touch the subconscious mind and evoke the underbelly of the human condition. They aim to break through the repressed thoughts and feelings by engaging him in themes of chaos and order, madness or unruly states of being, the human relationship to the animal world, life and death, universal archetypes of the psyche and experiences of otherness. Through his unique, complex visual language, and universal and profound themes, the artist has made a lasting contribution to the field of art.
Ballen has also been the creator of several acclaimed and exhibited short films that dovetail with his photographic series. In 2022, he was one of the artists that represented South African at the Venice Biennale Arte 2022.
He is also the founder and executive director of the Inside Out Centre for the Arts in Johannesburg, which opened to the public in March 2023. The Centre aims to promote an awareness of African related issues through exhibitions and educational programmes. Its first show, entitled End of the Game, explores the decimation of wildlife in Africa both through historical artefacts and Ballen’s photographs and installations.