OK, prepare to be shocked–and very, very impressed.
Ballen’s work is definitely cutting edge and will stretch your idea about what can be done in photography to–perhaps–your breaking point. At a minimum, maybe it will make you stop and think about how many of us so-called artistic photographers (read: “me”) tend to work within self-imposed limits of what is really possible.
We do this…why?
Maybe because we are worried about what others might think…or we worry about ruffling the stiff and furry feathers of societal norms…or maybe we worry about truly facing off with what might be dwelling deep inside us.
At any rate, I chose Roger Ballen for today’s Photographer Spotlight to get us all to think of where we might possibly go with our own personal photography if we eliminated what are largely arbitrary and self-imposed limits.
To start off, here is a short video (2:45) that sheds some light on his world and artistic view, and it also serves as a brief philosophy lesson in that it might also make you think about how you personally make “art”…
You May Be A Photographer, But Are You An Artist?
So, who is this Roger Ballen?
He was born in New York City in 1950 and now lives in Johannesburg, South Africa.
From the previous video, you can see why his work has often been labeled very psychological, very dark…although he himself would say he is just bringing out the “shadow side” of humanity. Although, he started as sort of a documentary photographer, his work has morphed into composed, collaborative images that force the viewer to wonder where reality ends and fantasy begins…where the documentary ends and the staged performance begins…
To illustrate further, check out this next video directed by Ballen and featuring the rap group Die Antwoord–a 2011 music video with currently at over 86 million hits on YouTube (and you can read the lyrics HERE):
“I Fink You Freeky” – Die Antwoord
Here is a list of Ballen’s major works–in case you have actually gotten this far and are interested in seeing the breadth of his talent:
2000, revised in 2015 – Outland
2004 – Shadow Chamber
2008 – Boarding House
2013 – Asylum of the Birds
2013 – I Fink U Freeky
2015 – The House Project