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Lens Culture Conversations with Photographers — Video Interview
American photographer Roger Ballen has been living and photographing in South Africa since the late 1970s. His photographs have caused international controversy, excitement, and debate ever since his book, Platteland: Images of a Rural South Africa, was published in the 1990s. Platteland was filled with raw, direct, disturbing photographs of poor white people in South Africa whose lives had been marginalized by the Apartheid government. While some critics accused Ballen of compiling a "voyeuristic freak show," Susan Sontag described the book as "the most important sequence of portraits I've seen in years."
Since that bombshell of a photobook hit the scene, Ballen's work has evolved away from a documentary approach to become much more abstract, metaphoric, and introspective (but no less disturbing). His most recent published work, Boarding House (2009), relies less on the human figure as central subject matter, and shows increasing emphasis on drawing, line, painting, sculpture, and the visual integration of complex, layered imagery, "where the subject has fallen away almost completely."
HINT: Click on the 4-way arrows on the lower right to watch the high-definition full screen version of the video.
You can learn more about Roger Ballen and his work on his website. Lens Culture also featured an audio interview and slideshow about Ballen's work one year ago, and another audio interview and a book review about his latest photobook, Boarding House, late last year.
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