I knew Roger Ballen from his series of photographs and portraits taken in South Africa, collected in his work “Platteland” and depicting a forsaken white population. The portrait of this policeman (shown below) was priceless. I saw him exhibited in Ottawa, Canada, and found it already quite scary and shocking. He is a famous photographer, widely recognised as one of the best of his generation. He was born in New York City in 1950, but lived in Johannesburg, South Africa, since 1980. After studying psychology at the University of California, he started to work as a photographer. Over the past two or three decades, Roger Ballen has mixed drawings, painting, collage and sculptural techniques around his photographs, to create enigmatic, mysterious (weird?) scenes. The Fotomuseum in Den Haag pays a tribute to his creativity by presenting a wide range of his photographs and pieces and invites us to discover “the world according to Roger Ballen”. A weird world for sure, populated by humans at the margin of society, dead animals displayed, revealing the darker sides of the human spirit. Highly disturbing images, staring into the eyes of cruel boys, playing with (or torturing) cats. An esoteric world that we don’t necessarily want to know, to be honest. So in short, I decided that this time, I did not want to play ball with Ballen.

Sergeant F de Bruin, Dept of Prison Employees, OFS, 1992 ©Roger Ballen
Cut Loose, 2005 ©Roger Ballen
Puppy Between Feet, 1999 ©Roger Ballen
The world according to Roger Ballen
The world according to Roger Ballen

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