Roger Ballen

Roger Ballen

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 2009, he presented his work for the first time in Ljubljana at Galerija Fotografija with world premiere of Boarding House and Retrospective 1982 – 2004 in Jakopič Gallery. 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.

Thames & Hudson released The Theatre of Apparitions in 2016. In a departure from his existing oeuvre, intricately layered images occupy a space between painting, drawing and photography linking image-making and theatrical performance. In September 2017 Thames & Hudson released Ballenesque, Roger Ballen: A Retrospective, a major retrospective of his collected works. In 2019, the book The World According to Roger Ballen was released, coinciding with a major exhibition of his works in Halle Saint Pierre, Paris.

His contribution has not been limited to stills photography and Ballen has been the creator of a number of acclaimed and exhibited short films that dovetail with his photographic series’. The collaborative film I Fink You Freeky, created for the cult band Die Antwoord in 2012, has garnered over 125-million hits on YouTube.


The World According to Roger Ballen, London, Thames & Hudson

Ballenesque Roger Ballen: A Retrospective, London, Thames & Hudson
Unleashed, Roger Ballen, Hans Lemmen, Kerber Verlag
Roger Ballen – Polaroids, volume 1, Alex Daniels, Reflex Editions

Theatre of Apparitions, London, Thames & Hudson
Roger Ballen Appearances, Disappearances, Reappearances, Nazraeli Press
No Joke, Asger Carlsen, Roger Ballen, Morel

Resurrected, Toinen Tuleminen, Kerber Art/Serlachius Museot, Finland
Elemental, Roger Ballen and Adam Ganz, Hotshoe

The Audience: Nazraeli Press
Roger Ballen’s Theatre of the Absurd, Pug Oslo
Asylum of the Birds, London, Thames & Hudson

Roger Ballen, Photo Poche series, Paris, Nathan
The House Project, Didi Bozzini, Oodee Books

Animal Abstraction, Exhibition catalogue Galerie Alex Daniels, Amsterdam, Reflex

Boarding House, London, Phaidon

Shadow Chamber, London, Phaidon

Fact or Fiction, Paris: Kamel Mennour

Outland, London: Phaidon

Cette Afrique là, Photo Poche series. Paris: Nathan

Platteland – Images from Rural South Africa Platteland

Dorps: Small Towns of South Africa, Cape Town: Hirt and Carter, 1986. (Reprinted by Protea Boekhuis, 2011)

Boyhood, New York/London: Chelsea House, 1979.


The Asia Pacific Brands Foundation Legendary Award

Süddeutsche Zeitung Magazin, Edition 46, Artist of the Year

Best Music Video, I Fink U Freeky, Plus Camerimage International Film Festival of the Art of Cinematography in Bydgoszcz, Poland
I Fink U Freeky. Award for best music video at the 20th Short Vila do Conde International Film Festival, Portugal

Finalist – Lucie Awards; Curator/Exhibition of the Year: Roger Ballen: Photographs 1982 – 2009. Curated by Dr. Anthony Bannon for the George Eastman House, Rochester, New York.

Art Directors Club Award Photography

The Selma Blair Witch Project – New York Times Magazine

Top 10 Exhibition, Matthew Higgs, Artforum

Citigroup Prize, finalist, UK
Photographer of the Year, Rencontres d’ Arles
Top 10 Exhibition, Vince Aletti, Artforum

PhotoEspana, Best Photographic Book of the Year, Spain
Photo-eye, Best Documentary Title, Best Photography Books of 2001
Special mention: UNICEF Photo of the Year 2001

Sani Festival, Best Solo Exhibition, Greece


Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth, Australia
Berkeley Art Museum, California
Biblioteque Nationale, Paris
Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Alabama, USA
Brooklyn Museum, New York, USA
Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France
Durban Art Gallery, Durban, South Africa
Fotomuseum, Munchen, Germany
George Eastman House, Rochester, New York, USA
Haifa Museum of Art, Israel
Hasselblad, Goteborg, Sweden
High Museum of Art, Atlanta, USA
Johannesburg Art Museum, South Africa
The Asia Pacific Brands Foundation Legendary Award, 2017
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, USA
Louisiana Museum, Denmark
Maison Europeene de la Photographie, Paris
Manchester Art Gallery, Manchester. United Kingdom
Musée de la Photographie á Charleroi, Belguim
Musee de l’Elysee , Lausanne, Switzerland
Museet for Fotokunst, Denmark
Museo nazionale Della Fotographia, Brescia, Italy
Museu de Arte Moderna do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Museum Dr. Guislain, Gent, Belgium
Museum Folkwang, Essen, Germany
Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego, USA
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, USA
Museum of Modern Art, New York, USA
National Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa
National Museum of Film and Photography, Bradford UK
Palm Springs Art Museum, California
Oliewenhuis, Bloemfontein, South Africa
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Spencer Art Museum, Kansas, USA
State Museum of Russia, Moscow, Russia
Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam
Tate Britain, London, UK
Tel Aviv Museum, Israel
Victoria and Albert Museum, London, UK
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Virginia, USA
Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, USA

Purchase / Artnet

Purchase / Ocula