Photographs by Roger Ballen. Text by Ulrich Pohlmann.
Kerber, 2011. 148 pp., 268 black & white illustrations, 11¾x11¾".
For more than 30 years now, American photographer
Roger Ballen (born 1950) has been shooting
portraits of the impoverished white population of
rural South Africa. Likened to the work of master
documentarians Walker Evans and Diane Arbus,
Ballen’s controversial photographs can be brutal,
funny, tender and appalling. His day laborers and
transients eek out a seemingly wretched existence
in the country’s so-called Platteland—a hermetically
sealed world rarely captured on film.
Ballen shoots exclusively in black and white, and
portrays his subjects against the backdrop of
their own living spaces, whose spartan interiors
he transforms into claustrophobic, almost surrealistic
stage sets, creating sculptural tableaux with
wire, dilapidated furniture, animals and drawings.
Published on the occasion of a retrospective at
the Münchner Stadt museum, this monograph
explores Ballen’s extraordinarily expressive brand
of photographic mythmaking.
Read Jonathan Blaustein's review of Roger Ballen Photographs in photo-eye Magazine.