Roger Ballen : Shadow land

Saturday I attended the Roger Ballen talk at Manchester Art Gallery.It was quite busy but I couldn’t help but notice a slightly older crowd of people as I looked around the room.
I had been to see the exhibition the day it started and was very lucky to spot Roger wandering around the gallery space.What this must feel like at your own show I do wonder.
I left the exhibition and the talk feeling very inspired,a little disturbed and certainly confused.
I did like the way Roger holds the audience but he doesn’t really explain his work,the technical skills or his thought processes.The work is so visual he explains there are sometimes when words can not be used to explain something visual.”It doesn’t mean words and visuals have to come together” They are different things.
This really was what the message I got from the talk,he inspires and talks about how he recalls the information from memory,but he explains memories change and cannot always be relied upon.
I was particularly interested in the relationships he must have had with the people he chooses to photograph.He chose to take photos of people in small towns (it started with Dorps in 82) and places in South Africa, poor white people who were living in poor conditions.
I learnt his photographs are a lot about repetitive forms,something I think I had only realised before subconsciously.
I find him as a person really interesting possibly more so then some of his images.The fact he can go these places to the fringes of a white society in South Africa and photograph people banned from society and sent to a place they were not meant to be noticed.What I really like is Roger was a geologist in 82 and he used his job and this lead him to discover different places to photograph.It must take a certain type of personality to make and recognise a beautiful project as this became and influences his style today.Taking something that should be hidden away and given a spotlight.
His photos are more developments from the last.Always black and white with a harsh flash,he uses the people he has developed special relationships with to prop them into doing a photograph.Within their environments.
He did a recent collaboration which resulted in a music video that I think is really good.Watch it here:


The black and white film really shows the dark and the depth within the textures,showing and displaying the truth.We all fear death and these photos are showing our fears in true form Roger explains in these photos we see ourselves.He also says the mind is made up of layers ,like his images.Roger shrouds his practise in mystery,he has said when people have asked him ‘are your images staged?’he replies ‘guess what,you wont get any answers’
He describes his newest/latest work with the words sculpturalistic and decisive.With each blink is a new image to be captured.I also heard him say he was ‘obsessed with animals’ and they seem to feature a lot in his newest photographs.

Rogers work is so deep and real,it haunts you and you are uncertain what is coming next,there is also something very beautiful and masterful about his work.
Please go to this exhibition,I will be going again soon!


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