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.