Shadow Land is a major exhibition of work by internationally-acclaimed photographer Roger Ballen whose work offers a powerful social critique and an extreme, uncanny beauty. The exhibition explores three decades of Ballen’s career, charting the evolution of his unique photographic style and demonstrating the contribution he has made to contemporary photography.
One of the most important photographers of his generation, Roger Ballen was born in New York in 1950 but for over 30 years he has lived and worked in South Africa. In his work from the early 1980s to mid 90s he gained world recognition and critical acclaim with his powerful and controversial images of those living on the margins of South African society.
Although retaining the same distinctive aesthetic, (all his work is in black and white, square format) in the last decade Ballen’s work has evolved into a style he describes as ‘documentary fiction’ where the line between reality and fantasy is deliberately blurred. In doing so, his work enters into a new realm of photography; the images are painterly and sculptural in ways not immediately associated with photography.
Shadow Land will include previously unseen work from his new series Asylum and will be Ballen’s first solo show in a UK public gallery.
Fans of Ballen’s work will be interested in his recent collaboration with Die Antwoord, a futuristic rap-rave crew from South Africa who represent a new style called Zef. Ballen’s photography has had a formative influence on the band and led to him directing their latest video I fink u freeky poised to be a viral sensation and introduce Ballen’s work to an entirely new audience.
Twirling Wires, 2001, Roger Ballen
Puppy Between Feet, 1999, Roger Ballen
Dressie and Casie, Twins, Western Transval, 1993, Roger Ballen
Head Inside Shirt, 2001, Roger Ballen
Sergeant F. De Brun, 1992, Roger Ballen
All, Courtesy of the artist and Hamilton’s Gallery, London.