Roger Ballen’s Theatre of the Mind

Roger Ballen is one of the most important photographers of his generation. He was born in New York in 1950 but has been living and working in South Africa for over 30 years. Over the past thirty years his distinctive style of photography has evolved using a simple square format in stark and beautiful black and white. In his earlier works his connection to the tradition of documentary photography is clear but through the 1990s he developed a style he describes as ‘ballenesque’.

In his recent series he has employed drawings, painting, collage and sculptural techniques to create elaborate sets. Ballen has invented a new hybrid aesthetic in these works but one still rooted firmly in photography.

“It’s an aesthetic, a way of expressing myself, that seems to be separate from other art, integrating drawing, painting, sculpture and installation, through black and white photography,” he says. “It reflects on the subconscious and an understanding of the human condition. It takes thousands of little relationships to get a good picture.”

Ballen has published over 20 books internationally, most recently The Theatre of Apparitions (Thames & Hudson, UK). Since 2014, he has held over 50 solo exhibitions worldwide. This autumn will also see the publication of a retrospective of Ballen’s career – entitled Ballenesque.

Curated by Colin Rhodes, Roger Ballen’s Theatre of the Mind is a provocative collection of 75 black and white images from the last two decades, and features five videos including the artist’s award-winning music video he directed for South African rap-rave group Die Antwoord.

This exhibition was developed by Colin Rhodes at the University of Sydney and toured by Te Uru Waitakere Contemporary Gallery in partnership with Tauranga Art Gallery. It is part of the Auckland Festival of Photography 2017 programme.

Curator Colin Rhodes will give an exhibition tour at 3pm, preceding the official opening on Saturday 27 May.

Image: Roger Ballen, Take Off, 2012 (detail)


27 May - 20 August 2017

Opening Saturday 27 May, 4pm

Photos: Sam Hartnett

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Curator's Gallery Tour
Saturday 27 May, 3pm