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Roger Ballen: A Retrospective

Roger Ballen


A substantial retrospective on one of the world’s most remarkable and critically acclaimed art photographers.


Separated into four parts, Ballenesque takes readers on a visual, chronological journey through Roger Ballen’s entire oeuvre, including both iconic images and previously unpublished photographs. Part I explores his formative artistic influences and his later rediscovery of boyhood through photography, culminating in his first published monograph, Boyhood, in 1979. Part II then charts the period between 1980 and 2000, during which time his deeper search for the elemental self found its way into the ‘Dorps’, or small towns, of South Africa and concluding with the release of his seminal monograph Outland. Part III covers the years 2000–2013, when Ballen achieved global recogition with Shadow Chamber and Boarding House and his work began to veer away from portraiture altogether. Finally, in Part IV, Ballen reflects upon his career in its entirety.

With over 300 photographs and an introduction by eminent academic Robert J. C. Young, this book provides both an entirely new way of seeing Ballen’s work for those who already follow his career and a comprehensive introduction for those encountering his photographs for the first time.

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'Essential reading'
Royal Photographic Society Journal

'A wonderful, career-long survey … wincingly moving'
The Independent

Product Information

Book Details

Format: Paperback with flaps

Edition Type: Revised and expanded edition

Size: 28.8 x 27.0 cm

Extent: 372 pp

Publication date: 10 February 2022

ISBN: 9780500296554

Contents List

Introduction by Robert J. C. Young
1. Finding the Core: Early work; Boyhood
2. Digging Deeper: Dorps; Platteland; Outland
3. Refining and Expanding: Shadow Chamber; Boarding House; Asylum of the Birds
4. The Space of the Mind: Leica photographs; Theatre of Apparitions; Ah Rats
Notes and epilogue

About the Author

Roger Ballen is an American-born photographer who has lived and worked in South Africa since the 1970s. His previous award-winning books include Platteland (1994), Outland (2001), Shadow Chamber (2005), Boarding House (2009), Asylum of the Birds (2014) and The Theatre of Apparitions (2016). Ballen’s photographs are collected by some of the most important institutions in the world and he has won numerous prestigious awards in photography and filmmaking. Robert J. C. Young is a British postcolonial theorist, cultural critic and historian. He is currently the Dean of Arts and Humanities at New York University Abu Dhabi.