The works of Roger Ballen, a leading figure in contemporary photography, who creates both documentary and staged images, will be on display from Wednesday at the House of Hungarian Photographers - Mai Manó House in Budapest.
Born in the United States in 1950 and living in Johannesburg, South Africa for over 40 years, Roger Ballen is one of the most important photographers of his generation, whose documentary and staged images occupy a unique place in contemporary photography. In his aesthetic and captivating compositions, he explores themes such as loss of control, chaos, madness, alienation, man's relationship with the animals, the inevitability of death and, again and again, most importantly the experience of otherness.
He describes his works as existential psychodramas that penetrate the unconscious to reveal the essence of human condition. "I am not an outsider artist based on my work. I am an international, well-trained artist. But the people I work with are considered to be on the fringes of society. More importantly, I think, my work takes you to the other side of your mind. I focus on emotional states, the places that people typically push to the periphery or margins to avoid."
Roger Ballen's work is complex and ambiguous, expressive and archetypal, but also full of irony, wit and humour. His haunting, radical photographs, hard to get out of our heads, become voyages of discovery into our own psyche. Throughout his career, he has gradually opened up to other genres, blending elements of graphic art and later sculpture and installation with his work, which remains in the realm of photography. He is also a successful videoclip director.
He has published more than twenty-five books worldwide, most recently Roger the Rat, published in 2020 by the German publisher Hatje Cantz. Perhaps his most important publication to date, Ballenesque, published by Thames and Hudson in 2017, is a large-scale, two-part retrospective photobook that attempts to summarise the artist's oeuvre to date. His works are in all major international museum collections.
He is one of the artists currently representing South Africa at the 2022 Venice Biennale.
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