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Roger Ballen – ‘A Good Picture Comes From Nowhere’ | TateShots

Should I look into this camera? This might be a slightly longer story. One, two, three My name is Roger Ballen and I’m going to take you to a place deep inside the Earth’s belly, layer by layer. There is something about the core that is the essence of life itself. Where is the mind? Can we find it? I’m trying to find the mind of Roger Ballen. A good picture comes from nowhere, a place in the mind that the mind isn’t
prepared for and that’s when pictures stay with you. These photographs were
taken between 1986 and 94 throughout the South African countryside. It was a
period of revolution, rebellion, chaos and uncertainty. During this time I photographed a group of white people living on the fringe. When people look at this photograph they have one impression of the twins. They’re quite aggressive looking but when you look up here, it’s it’s quite different it’s the essence is totally opposite. This is what’s crucial about photography, it’s always about catching this powerful instantaneous moment. It was the first still life I ever took in my career. It’s about the old and the new birth and rebirth After 2002 or so you rarely see a face in any of my photographs. I started to integrate sculpture and you can see by the boy’s arms that’s a work of sculpture. Drawing started to really pervade my photographs in this series. I went into many people’s houses over the years and in many of these houses the children or the people drew on the walls in the houses. Most people would find this
insane but I said to myself: Why shouldn’t you draw on the walls? Why do you have to go to a shop where the gallery? I met Ninja and Yolandi in about 2005 they said when they saw my book Outland
and Shadow Chamber, they stopped everything they were doing and
reinvented themselves as Die Artwoord. This video gave me the inspiration and
an idea to make more videos and I guess the most important thing that came out
of making ‘I Think U Freeky’ was that I started making videos with all my series and a lot of young people started the follow me. In around 2003 or so, a man
took me to a place that I refer to as the Asylum of the Birds. There were birds
everywhere and the man who managed the building he didn’t like his birds in cages. He felt they should stay free. See birds, for most people, are a sign of
purity. They link the heavens to the earth most people don’t like rats, they’re scared of rats, they make them anxious. Why? A rat’s no different than
anything else in nature, it’s just a product of life. I’m trying to get to the bottom of something. What is real and unreal? I was in a woman’s prison in Johannesburg. When I went in this cell there were windows covered with paintings and I was amazed with the luminosity of these paintings. These photographs were all taken on glass windows. What I did here is I made the invisible visible. We all believe in spirits or ghosts somehow or another, we can’t disapprove them. This was quite an interesting challenge for me, to photograph what I couldn’t see but what I thought was always there. Think about it, think about it. Can you prove that you’re
really real?


  1. Risk Romer Author

    I don't necessarily agree with some of his ideas but they're really interesting and certainly his voice and the way he delivers his message is captivating.


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