Roger Ballen gilt als einer der bekanntesten Fotografen Südafrikas. Mit eindringlichen Reportagebildern der weissen südafrikanischen Unterschicht machte er Ende der Achtzigerjahre weltweit Furore. Seine jüngsten Arbeiten sind nun in Lausanne zu sehen.

Durch die Bilder der weissen Unterschicht fühlten sich die einstigen Machthaber der Apartheid-Ära denunziert – so sehr, dass sie Roger Ballen mit dem Tod bedrohten. Doch die neusten Arbeiten des Fotografen haben mit gesellschaftskritischer Reportage nichts mehr zu tun.

Diese jüngeren Fotografien sind sind magisch, poetisch und dunkel. In ihrem Brennpunkt steht das Archaische und das Archetypische. Zu sehen sind sie derzeit Musée d’Elysée in Lausanne.

DRS 2 Reflexe vom Montag, 4.6.2012, 10.03 Uhr


I have been shooting black and white film for nearly fifty years now. I believe I am part of the last generation that will grow up with this media. Black and White is a very minimalist art form and unlike color photographs does not pretend to mimic the world in a manner similar to the way the human eye might perceive. Black and White is essentially an abstract way to interpret and transform what one might refer to as reality.

My purpose in taking photographs over the past forty years has ultimately been about defining myself. It has been fundamentally a psychological and existential journey.

If an artist is one who spends his life trying to define his being, I guess I would have to call myself an artist.

Roger Ballen


Roger Ballen, Asylum

Musée de l’Elysée | 08.06.2012 – 02.09.2012

In Johannesburg, where he has been living since the 70’s, the American photographer Roger Ballen visited a very peculiar house four years ago, a house that has become the central focus of his present work. There he found a heterogeneous compound of South-African society. A great number of wild birds freely share the space with the humans, and with many other animals such as cats, rabbits, mice or ducks. The birds are cage less and free to come and go as they please. The rooms in this house are all covered with drawings of familiar, sometimes chimerical, figures and portraits made by the inhabitants.

Roger Ballen has named this place Asylum, which is also the title of his series. An asylum can be both a place of refuge, as well as of confinement.

It is this same ambiguity that gives sense to these images, a balancing act between the birds, illuminating symbols of freedom and peace, and a more somber aspect, chaotic and imbued with folly, exposed in the photographs within this very pictorial space.

The human figure vanishes under masks and make-up, to reveal only body parts and a permanent tension between freedom and confinement, tragic and comical, attraction and repulsion.

The photographer refers to his work as being the perfect meeting point between Surrealism and Art Brut and by incorporating photographic collages, Roger Ballen unveils what he calls an “imaginary realism.”

This exhibition, which will be the occasion to discover this set of yet unreleased images realized between 2008 and 2011, is produced by the Musée de l’Elysée.



Quelle Texte: DRS 2 Reflexe Musée de l’Elysée

Quelle Bilder: Website Roger Ballen