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The Theatre of Apparitions

Roger Ballen


An immersive, groundbreaking new monograph from Roger Ballen, one of the world’s most original and critically acclaimed art photographers

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With a career spanning over four decades, Roger Ballen is best known for his psychologically powerful and masterfully composed images that exist in a space between painting, drawing, installation and photography. This book is both a departure from his existing oeuvre and the culmination of his unique aesthetic linking image-making and theatrical performance. Separated into seven chapters or 'acts', these Ballenesque images take readers on a journey deep into their subconscious.

Inspired by the sight of hand-drawn carvings on blacked-out windows in an abandoned women's prison, Ballen started to experiment using different spray paints on glass and then 'drawing on' or removing the paint with a sharp object to let natural light through. The results are like prehistoric cave-paintings: the black, dimensionless spaces on the glass are canvases onto which Ballen carves his thoughts and emotions. Fossil-like facial forms and dismembered body parts co-exist uncomfortably with vaporous, ghost-like shadows - these images have the capacity to shock, inspire, amuse and even elate viewers.

Timeless and innovative, earthly and otherwordly, physical and spiritual, his work transcends all traditional concepts of photography.

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'Reveals a surprising, macabre new direction for the photographer'
Creative Review


'Highlights shadowed places in the human psyche and in the wider world. Recommended'
Fortean Times

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Product Information

Book Details

Format: Hardback

Size: 24.0 x 17.0 cm

Extent: 192 pp

Publication date: 29 September 2016

ISBN: 9780500544648

Contents List

Introduction • Plates split into seven chapters or ‘Acts’ (each with an introduction by Roger Ballen) • Afterword by Roger Ballen (on how the photographs were created) • List of Works • Biography

About the Author

Roger Ballen is the recipient of numerous awards, including ‘Photographer of the Year’ at Rencontres d’Arles in 2002 and ‘Photography Book of the Year’ for Outland at Photo España in 2001.

List of Contributors

Marguerite Rossouw, Colin Rhodes