Roger Ballen questions what is Ugliness, and is it Beauty?

Over the past thirty years, his distinctive style of photography has evolved using a simple square format in stark and beautiful black and white. The line between fantasy and reality in his more recent series’ Boarding House and Asylum of the Birds has become increasingly blurred and in these series he has employed drawings, painting, collage and sculptural techniques to create elaborate sets. He tells us about how these experiences has shaped his perception of ugliness and beauty.

About the speaker

Roger Ballen was born in New York in 1950, but for over 30 years he has lived and worked in South Africa. His work as a geologist took him out into the countryside and led him to take up his camera and explore the hidden world of small South African towns. Once he had made the step of knocking on people’s doors, he discovered a world inside these houses which was to have a profound effect on his work. After 1994 he no longer looked to the countryside for his subject matter finding it closer to home in Johannesburg.

Over the past thirty years, his distinctive style of photography has evolved using a simple square format in stark and beautiful black and white. The line between fantasy and reality in his more recent series’ Boarding House and Asylum of the Birds has become increasingly blurred and in these series he has employed drawings, painting, collage and sculptural techniques to create elaborate sets. The often improvised scenarios are completed by the unpredictable behaviour of the animals, which appear snapped in an instant of observation.

Catch up with him on his website, twitter or on Facebook

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