roger ballen: 1969   2009 at marta herford roger ballen: 1969   2009 at marta herford
may 06, 2012

roger ballen: 1969 2009 at marta herford

‘dresie and casie, twins, western transvaal’ by roger ballen, 1993 from the series: platteland gelatin paper, 36 x 36 cm all images © roger ballen and courtesy of marta herford

roger ballen: photographs 1969-2009 marta herford, herford, germany open now until june 17th, 2012

the comprehensive exhibition features two hundred large-format, black-and-white minimalist images by new york-born and johannesburg, south africa-based photographer roger ballen. known for his story-telling approach to his often documentary-based medium, the selected collection of works on show, taken between 1969 to 2009, portray the unique artistic approach he has taken over the course of his fifty year photographic practice. many of the pieces featured in the show picture his depiction of descendants of the boers in south africa, taking a pseudo-documentary approach to what ultimately results in a poignant portrayal of the way of life for individuals of a particular time and place.

‘man holding cat’, 1995 from the series: outland gelatin paper, 36 x 36 cm image © roger ballen

‘perpetrator’, 2003 from the series: shadow chamber gelatin paper, 36 x 36 cm image © roger ballen

‘I have been shooting black and white film for nearly fifty years now. I believe I am part of the last generation that will grow up with this media. black and white is a very minimalist art form and unlike color photographs does not pretend to mimic the world in a manner similar to the way the human eye might perceive. black and white is essentially an abstract way to interpret and transform what one might refer to as reality.

my purpose in taking photographs over the past forty years has ultimately been about defining myself. it has been fundamentally a psychological and existential journey. if an artist is one who spends his life trying to define his being, I guess I would have to call myself an artist.‘ -roger ballen

‘rat on back’, 2003 from the series: shadow chamber gelatin paper, 36 x 36 cm image © roger ballen

‘prickles’, 2002 from the series: boarding house inkjet-print, 65 x 65 cm image © roger ballen

‘untitled’, 2009 from the series: asylum inkjet-print, 90 x 90 cm image © roger ballen

‘untitled’, 2009 from the series: asylum inkjet-print, 90 x 90 cm image © roger ballen

‘cut loose’, 2005 from the series: boarding house inkjet-print, 65 x 65 cm image © roger ballen

‘wall above bed, dordrecht’, 1984 from the series: dorps gelatin paper, 36 x 36 cm image © roger ballen

‘clown, usa’, 1969 from the series: civil rights gelatin paper, 15 x 23 cm image © roger ballen

unlike the now regular speedy and wide-spread approach to this method of artistic creation and distribution, ballen lingers on each individual, allowing the honesty of his simplistic framing and straight-on depictions make visible the hidden qualities of the person or scene pictured.

‘letting go, ceylon’, 1976 from the series: boyhood gelatin paper, 24 x 36 cm image © roger ballen

‘passerby, israel’, 1974 from the series: israel gelatin paper, 23 x 15 cm image © roger ballen

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