From My Library

Shadow Chamber - April 20, 2021
Shadow Chamber, Roger Ballen

Roger Ballen, Phaidon Press, 2005

I’ve been familiar with Roger Ballen’s work for several years: the direct yet unsettling images bring to mind the works of Eugene Meatyard or Diane Arbus, and with hints of a performative macabre that goes beyond those two, and perhaps edges up against Joel Peter Witkin (but with less demonstrably ‘freaky’ and more subtle, and thus more pervasive, characters and settings that are more disturbing in their supposed banality) . In an introductory text to this wonderful collection of Ballen’s photographs, Robert A Sobieszek offers the following: “To discern fact from fiction in this work may be simply impossible; to tell acting from real life may also be; to bother with such discernment may not be only futile but missing the point.” I’d argue that Ballen’s work is a glimpse of the very real, and it’s stark and unflinching. A good introduction to this prolific artist’s aesthetic.

~ Bart Gazzola