Photoworks: Thanks for taking the time to talk to us. For anyone unfamiliar with your work, could you briefly explain your approach to photography?
Roger Ballen: My imagery is primarily psychological in nature; with a primary purpose of transforming the subconscious mind. Hopefully the end result will be greater self-awareness.
PW:What are you hopes and aims with this new exhibition?
RB: I am hopeful that this new exhibition at Arles, The House of the Ballenesque, will better able to understand and appreciate the Ballenesque aesthetic. I feel that the show has the possibility of expanding people’s consciousness of themselves.
PW: You speak of the house in the exhibition representing the mind metaphorically. What can people expect to experience on entering the house?
RB: I would hope that the work will alert the mind to itself; to become aware that there is a reality beyond ordinary day to day experience.
PW: Your photography creates fantastic realms and realities that seem to be isolated from reality and certainly removed from other photographic genres. This has resulted in a descriptive term called ‘documentary fiction’. Could you talk about how this term came to be and what your understanding of it is?
RB: Documentary fiction depicts an aesthetic that contains aspects of documentation and imagination. The most effective photographs employing this style are ambiguous and enigmatic in which the viewer is unable to distinguish what is ultimately fact and what is fiction.
PW: You’ve recently opened the Roger Ballen Foundation Centre for Photography at the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa in Cape Town. What coming next for you?
RB: The Roger Ballen Foundation Centre for Photography will open on or around September 17 2017. At that same time, Thames and Hudson will publish a retrospective book on my career titled Ballenesque, Roger Ballen, A Retrospective.
‘House of the Ballenesque’ will show at Les Rencontres d’Arles until 24 September 2017.
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