Oxford School of Photography

insights into photography

Shadow land: photographs by Roger Ballen

Staying with the South African theme for a moment, this exhibition looks interesting and if you are near Manchester would be worth some of your time.

Roger Ballen is an American photographer who has been shooting in black-and-white for more than 40 years, mostly in South Africa. Here is a selection of images from his exhibition Shadow Land, taken between 1983 and 2011, which can be seen at the Manchester Art Gallery until 13 May 2012.

“Shadow Land is a major exhibition of work by internationally-acclaimed photographer Roger Ballen whose work offers a powerful social critique and an extreme, uncanny beauty. The exhibition explores three decades of Ballen’s career, charting the evolution of his unique photographic style and demonstrating the contribution he has made to contemporary photography.

One of the most important photographers of his generation, Roger Ballen was born in New York in 1950 but for over 30 years he has lived and worked in South Africa. In his work from the early 1980s to mid 90s he gained world recognition and critical acclaim with his powerful and controversial images of those living on the margins of South African society.

Although retaining the same distinctive aesthetic, (all his work is in black and white, square format) in the last decade Ballen’s work has evolved into a style he describes as ‘documentary fiction’ where the line between reality and fantasy is deliberately blurred. In doing so, his work enters into a new realm of photography; the images are painterly and sculptural in ways not immediately associated with photography.

Shadow Land will include previously unseen work from his new series Asylum and will be Ballen’s first solo show in a UK public gallery.

Fans of Ballen’s work will be interested in his recent collaboration with Die Antwoord, a futuristic rap-rave crew from South Africa who represent a new style called Zef. Ballen’s photography has had a formative influence on the band and led to him directing their latest video I fink u freeky poised to be a viral sensation and introduce Ballen’s work to an entirely new audience.”

  • Friday 30 March 2012 – Sunday 13 May 2012
  • Manchester Art Gallery
  • FREE

 

 

One response to “Shadow land: photographs by Roger Ballen

  1. Eduard Grebe April 11, 2012 at 9:23 am

    I am ambivalent about Ballen’s work, including on the Die Antwoord video. Subjects seem to be portrayed more as freaks than with empathy, and the photographs seem to be designed to appeal to our lower instincts.

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