Roger Ballin - Why / Look'a Who FLAC album
Roger Ballin - Why (Nike).
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Roger Ballen: The animals can be seen in two different metaphorical ways. Then the other important thing is that when you look at the pictures, you have to reflect on the state of animals in the world. The state of animals is in a very bad state. The animals are in this so-called Ballenesque state.
Ballen, who is a geologist by education, moved from his native New York state to Johannesburg to work in its minding industry, but he’s always had a camera with him, a debt he probably owed to his mother, who was a member of the Magnum photo agency in the ‘60s, and who passed away prematurely in 1973. Ballen’s first work of note was Drops: Small Towns of South Africa, but he did not achieve notoriety until his 2001 book, Outland. To look at Ballen’s images requires certain strength, an ability to squarely look at human grotesqueness on the most intimate scale. There is no didactic admonishing in them about the plight of the underclass; they are not meant to send us on another pointless guilt trip while scoring the photographer cheap humanitarian points. What you get instead is a feeling of sympathy coupled with existential dread.
Many of you may remember Roger Ballen here from his Boarding House essay, also published in Burn 01. Roger was also kind enough to interact with this audience. This is a very interesting example of a conceptual still photographer making a video. This video took 5 days of shooting, but was years in conceptualizing, says Roger. We had really clear concepts of what we wanted to do in our heads. We started with my photographs for ideas, and then mimicked them in the sets. I have watched this a dozen times now, and see some new piece each time.
Mark Zuckerberg, Roger Goodell, Robert Kraft and a whole host of rich people converged on Sun Valley Resort in Idaho this week to have talks about what rich people should do with their riches next. what can we read into seeing Kraft, Goodell, Zuckerberg and ex-Steelers coach Bill Cowher all being in attendance? Probably not much.
On Tuesday, Roger Ballen, who was in Britain for the opening of a retrospective show of his work at Manchester gallery, gave a talk at Rudolf Steiner House in London. It was a strange event, part-performance, part-lecture and, as such, as unsatisfying to me as his later images. It made me think, at times, that photographers should not really talk about their work – especially when they are essentially telling us how to respond to it, as was the case here. Ballen is a strange character. It is hard to know when he is being serious and when he is being mischievous
Roger Ballen depict an abstracted imaginary space that is inhabited by both animals and people. Mostly within grey, barren cell-like structures, nightmarish scenarios, which are unspecific in their narrative, are enacted. The oppressive intensity of this environment is created by the metaphorical or symbolic interplay of the spaces, the figures and animals, and the furniture and other paraphernalia that exist within – and in fact help create – this world.
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Written-By – R. Ballin*
Written By – Catron, Colbert, Oliver
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