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Roger Ballen

Boarding House

written by Roger Ballen, David Travis

Phaidon Press | ISBN 9780714849522

Hardback – 128 pages

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"Boarding House" shows an imaginary space of transient residence, of coming and goings, of people without homes, sheltering in an abode that they are using for their immediate survival. The structure is basic and fundamental and it is furnished with objects that are necessarily for an elementary existence. Remnants function here as physical symbols of events that have occurred in this space; broken pieces of a functional reality exist as the leftovers of scenarios that were played out here.The altered sense of place of this temporary abode for by-passers who play out their sense of alienation on the stage gives the work depth of significance as both a psychological and aesthetic statement. Having evolved from and developed out of Roger Ballen's previous work, "Boarding House" differs significantly in that the work has become even more formally sophisticated and more focused on the drawing and sculptural elements of the photographs, and the sense of collaboration between the artist and his subjects increasingly evident. In his introductory essay, veteran photography curator David Travis addresses this new body of work in an accessible way, looking at these new images in the wider context of Ballen's career.

Born in New York City in 1950, Roger Ballen has lived and worked in Johannesburg, South Africa for almost 30 years. The son of a picture editor at Magnum, he worked as a geologist and mining consultant before starting his own photographic career by documenting the small villages of rural South Africa and their isolated inhabitants. His images are both powerful social statements and disturbing psychological studies. Ballen's previous book Outland (Phaidon, 2001) is of the most extraordinary photographic documents of the late twentieth century.Author's residence: Johannesburg, South AfricaDavid Travis retired from his post as chair of the department of photography at the Art Institute of Chicago in July 2008, having worked at the institute for 36 years. Since starting out as an assistant curator of photography in 1972, he curated more than 150 photography exhibitions at the institute and also guest curated exhibitions at other American museums, including the National Gallery of Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In 1987, he was awarded the Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres for his contributions to the advanced awareness of French culture.

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