Roger Ballen (American, b.1950) is a photographer whose works have caused much debate, excitement, and controversy on the international scene. Ballen was born in New York, NY, but he moved to South Africa in the 1970s. He has an educational background in psychology and a working background in geology, two areas that have greatly inspired his current work.

Ballen began taking photographs and documenting villages of rural South Africa early in his work, but in the 1980s and the 1990s he began to focus on the inhabitants of these villages. In the late 1990s, his work again evolved as he gradually moved away from documentary to fiction photography. Examples of his photographs include Bedroom, Bethulie (1983), Dresie and Casie, Twins, Western Transvaal (1993), and Goat and Blackboard (2003). Most of Ballen''s latest works, mainly from Boarding House (2009), are painterly and sculptural; his love for architectural works and interiors is greatly evidenced in most of his works.

Ballen has several published books such as Boyhood (1979), Outland (2001), and Boarding House (2009). Ballen has received numerous awards for his work including Best Solo Exhibition of the Sani Festival, Greece (2000), Photographer of the Year, Rencontres d''Arles (2002), and Citigroup Prize, finalist, UK (2002). Most of Ballen''s works have found their way to important museums and galleries all over the world. His work has been exhibited in institutions including Fotomuseum, Munich, Germany, Johannesburg Art Museum, Johannesburg, South Africa, Musée de la Photographie, Charleroi, Belgium, and Victoria and Albert Museum, London, England. In addition, he has also held a number of solo exhibitions in several countries, including those held at Pretoria Art Museum, Pretoria, South Africa (1986), Galerija Fotografija, Ljubljana, Slovenia (2009), and Stenersen Museum, Oslo, Norway (2010). Ballen has also participated in numerous group exhibitions in diverse places like Contemporain, Paris, France (1997), National Portrait Gallery, London, England (1999), and Snaps, Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa (2005). Ballen is represented by the Gagosian Gallery, Stills Gallery, and Gallery Xavier Hufkens. Ballen now lives and works in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Timeline

1950
Born in New York, USA
1972
Bachelor's degree in Psychology University of California, Berkeley, USA
1981
PhD in Mineral Economics
Lives and works in Johannesburg, South Africa

Exhibitions

2012–2013
Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Tel Aviv, Israel (solo)
2012
Roger Ballen, Kunsthalle wien project space, Vienna, Austria (solo)
Novosibirsk Art Museum, Novosibirsk, Russia (solo)
Retrospective, Rosphoto, St. Petersburg, Russia (solo)
North-West University Museum, Potchefstroom, South Africa (solo)
Shadow Land: Photographs by Roger Ballen 1983-2011, Manchester Art Museum, Manchester, England
Roger Ballen: Fotografien 1969 bis 2009, Marta Herford Museum, Herford, Germany (solo)
Retrospective, Museu de Arte Moderna, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (solo)
Roger Ballen: Asylum, Musée de l'Elysée. Lausanne, Switzerland (solo)
No Way Out, Galerie Photonet, Wiesbaden, Germany (solo)
Roger Ballen: Fotografien 1969 bis 2009, Marta Herford Museum, Herford, Germany (solo)
Art of Others, Outsiders, Self Taught and Naive Artists, Haifa Museum of Art, Haifa, Israel
Domestic Disorder in Contemporary Art, Musexpo, Goussainville, France
The FACE - evolution of portrait in photography, Rosphoto, St. Petersburg, Russia
2011
Roger Ballen and Boarding House, Iziko South African National Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa (solo)
Roger Ballen, Fondazione Terre Medicee, Seravezza, Italy (solo)
Roger Ballen: Portraits, Still Lifes and New Works, Galleri Tom Christoffersen, Copenhagen, Denmark (solo)
Roger Ballen, Museum Het Domein, Sittard, The Netherlands (solo)
Roger Ballen: Asylum, Le Mois de la Photo à Montréal, ARSENAL, Montreal, Canada (solo)
Boarding House & New Works, Fahey/Klein Gallery, Los Angeles, USA (solo)
Omsk Museum, Omsk, Russia (solo)
Angkor Photo Festival, Siem Reap, Cambodia (solo)
Roger Ballen, animal abstraction: selected photographs 1998 - 2011, Galerie Alex Daniels - Reflex Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands (solo)
Reconstructions: Contemporary Art from South Africa, Museu de Arte Contemporanea de Niteroi, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Something that I'll Never Really See - Contemporary Photography from the V&A, National Gallery of Modern Art, Bengaluru, India
High Speed Insanity, Blomqvist Fine Art, Oslo, Norway
The Eye is a Lonely Hunter: Images of Humankind, Fotofestival Mannheim Ludwigshafen Heidelberg. Heidelberg, Germany
Real, Fotogalerie Wien, Vienna, Austria
Peekaboo: Current South Africa, Helsinki Art Museum Tennis Palace, Helsinki, Finland
Roger Ballen - Photographs 1969-2009, Münchner Stadtmuseum - Sammlung Fotografie, Munich, Germany (solo)
Roger Ballen, Galeria Max Estrella, Madrid, Spain (solo)
2010
Bozar, Brussels, Belgium (solo)
Galerie Kamel Mennour, Paris, France (solo)
Iziko South African National Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa (solo)
Photonet Galerie, Wiesbaden, Germany (solo)
Stenersen Museum, Oslo, Norway (solo)
Sydney Biennale, Sydney, Australia (solo)
2009
Triennale, Milan, Italy (solo)
University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa (solo)
University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa (solo)
University of the Orange Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa (solo)
Gagosian Gallery, New York, USA (solo)
Galerie Wolfsen, Aalborg, Denmark (solo)
Galerija Fotografija, Ljubljana, Slovenia (solo)
Galleria Massimo Minini, Brescia, Italy (solo)
Hamiltons Gallery, London, England (solo)
Johnen Gallery, Berlin, Germany (solo)
Monash Gallery of Art, Melbourne, Australia (solo)
National Library of Australia, Canberra, Australia (solo)
Ontario College of Art & Design, Toronto, Ontario (solo)
still - roger ballen, Aura Gallery, Shanghai, China (solo)
Auckland University of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand (solo)
City Museum of Ljubljana, Ljubljana, Slovenia (solo)
2008
Las implicaciones de la imagen, MUCA Museo Universitario de Ciencas y Arte, Mexico City, Mexico
Untitled (Vicarious), Photographing the Constructed Object, Gagosian Gallery, New York, USA
After Nature, New Museum, New York, USA
Go for it! Olbricht Collection (a sequel), Neues Museum Weserburg, Bremen, Germany
Roger Ballen, Quality Pictures Contemporary Art, Portland, USA (solo)
black and white, Hong Kong (solo)
2007
Johannesburg Art Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa (solo)
Roger Ballen – Shadow Chamber, Galerie Photonet, Wiesbaden, Germany (solo)
Brutal, Tender, Human, Animal: Roger Ballen photography, The Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth, Australia (solo)
again: serial practices in contemporary art, Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, USA
Catherine Edelman Gallery, Chicago, USA (solo)
Clint Roenisch Gallery, Toronto, Canada (solo)
Deichtorhallen, Hamburg, Germany (solo)
Jackson Fine Art, Atlanta, USA (solo)
Robert Klein Gallery, Boston, USA (solo)
University of Auckland, New Zealand (solo)
luo quanmu paintings 2000-2007 aura gallery, Shanghai, China (solo)
2006
Pet Project, Australian Center for Photography, Fitzroy, Australia
Intersections. Atlanta collects Photography, High Museum, Atlanta, USA
The Cat’s Meow, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, USA
Von Mäusen und Menschen, 4. Berlin Biennale für zeitgenössische Kunst, KW Institut für zeitgenössische Kunst, Berlin, Germany
Auf leisen Pfoten. Die Katze in der Kunst, Städtische Galerie Karlsruhe, Germany
Galerie Alex Daniels - Reflex Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands (solo)
Shadow Chamber, Stills Gallery, Sydney, Australia
Shadow Chamber, Johnen + Schöttle, Cologne, Germany (solo)
Galerie Nicola von Senger, Zurich, Switzerland (solo)
Atlanta College of Arts, USA (solo)
Berlin Biennial, Berlin, Germany (solo)
Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris, France (solo)
Christian Dam Gallery, Oslo, Norway (solo)
Everard Read, Johannesburg, South Africa (solo)
Fotografisk Center, Copenhagen, Denmark (solo)
Fahey Klein Gallery, Los Angeles, USA (solo)
Galerie Kamel, Paris, France (solo)
Guido Costa Projects, Torino, Italy (solo)
Michael Hoppen Gallery, London, England (solo)
Museum voor Fotografie, Antwerp, Belgium (solo)
National Arts Festival, South Africa (solo)
Oliewenhuis Art Museum, Bloemfontein, South Africa (solo)
2005
Snaps, Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa
Shadow Chamber, Aura Gallery, Shanghai, China
2004
Beauty of Darkness, Galerie Alex Daniels - Reflex Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Je t’envisage. La Disparition du Portrait, Musée de l’Elysée, Lausanne, Switzerland
2002
Les Rencontres d’Arles, Photographie, Arles, France
Dislocacion, Centro Cultural de Maia, Porto; Sala Rekalde, Bilbao, Spain
Hall of Mirrors, Museet for Fotokunst, Odense, Denmark
New Documentary Photography, Victoria & Albert Museum, London, England
Citigroup Photography Prize, London, England
OUTLAND, Galleria d’Arte Moderna, Bologna, Italy (solo)
OUTLAND, Gagosian Gallery, New York, USA (solo)
Gagosian Gallery, Beverly Hills, USA (solo)
Musee Nicephore Niepce, Chalon sur Saone, France (solo)
Museo Nazionalle Italy, Brescia, Italy (solo)
Nuku Gallery, Oulu, Finland (solo)
Museet for Fotokunst, Odense, Denmark (solo)
Russian Museum, Museum Ludwig, St. Peterburg, Russia (solo)
Museum for Contemporary Art, San Diego, USA (solo)
Sala Rekalde, Bilbao, Spain (solo)
Centro Cultural de Maia, O’Porto, Spain (solo)
Gallery of Photography, Dublin, Ireland (solo)
Citigroup Photography Plaza, London, England
New Documentary Photography, Victoria and Albert Museum, London National Portrait Gallery, London, England
2001
La Natura della Natura Morta, Italy
Recent Acquisitions, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Hall of Mirrors, Museet for Fotokunst, Odense, Denmark
Rupertinum, Salzburg, Austria (solo)
Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa (solo)
Fotoforum, Frankfurt, Germany (solo)
Association for Visual Arts, Cape Town, South Africa (solo)
Wurttembergischer Kunstverein, Stuttgart, Germany (solo)
Kunstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin, Germany (solo)
Hasselbald Center, Goteborg, Sweden (solo)
International Photo Festival, Herten, Germany (solo)
Pritemps de Septembre, Toulouse, France (solo)
2000
Royal Theatre of Namur, Belgium (solo)
Month of Photography, Thessaloniki, Greece (solo)
Noordelicht, Amsterdam, The Netherlands (solo)
Sani Festival, Greece (solo)
Portraits of Africa, Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin, Germany
1999
National Portrait Gallery, London, England
New Natural History, National Museum of Photography of Film & Television Bradford, England
Fait & Cause, Paris, France (solo)
Melkweg, Amsterdam, The Netherlands (solo)
Month of Photography, Bratislava, Slovakia (solo)
Month of Photography, Cape Town, South Africa (solo)
1998
Kunstal Museum, Rotterdam, The Netherlands (solo)
Lumo ’98, Finland (solo)
Kunsthaus, Zurich, Switzerland (solo)
Comment Jouer Enfermement, Maison Européene de la Photographie, Paris, France
1997
Double Vie, Double Vue, Fondation Cartier pour l’art Contemporaine, Paris South African National Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa
1996
Eindhoven Photographic Festival, The Netherlands (solo)
Tarranto Gallery, New York, USA (solo)
1995
Arles Photographic Festival, Arles, France (solo)
Royal Festival Hall/Hayward Gallery, London, England (solo)

Public Collections

Victoria and Albert Museum, London, UK
Centre Pompidou, Paris, France
Museum of Modern Art, New York, USA

Literature

2011
Pijbes, Wim. Roger Ballen, animal abstraction: selected photographs 1998 - 2011. Galerie Alex Daniels - Reflex Amsterdam. Amsterdam, The Netherlands
2011
Roger Ballen. Iziko South African National Gallery. Cape Town, South Africa.
2010
Nicoletti, Giovanni. Roger Ballen: Storie. Museo Riva del Garda. Riva del Garda, Italy
2010
Pohlmann, Ulrich and Christin Krause, eds. Roger Ballen - Photographs 1969-2009. Kerber. Bielefeld, Germany
2009
Roger Ballen: 1982 - 2009. Triennale di Milano, in collaboration with Galleria Massimo Minini. Milan, Italy
2009
Boarding House, Phaidon Press, London
2005
Shadow Chamber, Introduction by Robert A. Sobieszek, Paidon Press, London
2003
Fact or Fiction, Introduction by Stéphane Guibourgé, Galerie Kamel Mennour
2001
Outland, Introduction by Peter Weiermair, Phaidon Press, London
1998
Lumo '98, Shadows, Finland (cat.)
1998
South African National Gallery, Contemporary South AFrican Photography (cat.)
1997
Cette Afrique là, Introduction by Lionel Murcott, Photo Pouche series, Editions Nathan Paris
1997
Double vie, double vue, Fondation Cartier pour l'art contemporain (cat.)
1996
Platteland, Images of a Rural South Africa, Introduction by Roger Ballen, St. Martins Press, New York
1994
Platteland, Images of a Rural South Africa, Introduction by Roger Ballen, William Waterman Publications
1994
Platteland, Images of a Rural South Africa, Introduction by Roger Ballen, Quartet Books, London
1986
Dorps, Small Towns of South Africa, Introduction by Roger Ballen, Clifton Publications, South Africa
1979
Boyhood, Introduction by Roger Ballen, Chelsea House Publishers, New York-London