MiamiPhotoFest Presents

Roger Ballen’s Theater of the Absurd

Roger Ballen, best known for his complex images, typically focusing on people on the margins using notoriously unsafe locations has created a striking and delightfully unnerving body of work: The Theater of the Absurd.

“Absurdity is an integral part of human nature, people’s behavior does not have any reason, direction or ultimate purpose.” - Roger Ballen




Roger Ballen’s Theater of the Absurd

“When we think about absurdity, we imagine that it is ridiculous, but it’s not funny; there are many things that are worth laughing about but we do not laugh … it is very important for us to face and understand ourselves.”  - Roger Ballen

For the past 40 years, Ballen has portrayed a visual reality where human beings and animals are trapped in an incomprehensible world subject to any occurrence, no matter how illogical. His work captures a tragic reality devoid of ideals, purity and purpose in which the subjects´ actions seem senseless and absurd. 

This world reveals itself in photographs that are not only beautiful in their formal qualities, but profoundly meaningful in content.

From his photojournalistic beginnings, the last 16-20 years have seen Ballen introduce drawings and theatrical devices into his photographs, in particular, providing a deeper means of penetrating the human subconscious and exposing the the absurd.

Ballen’s work isn’t just eerie or graphic, but a telescopic peek into the human mind’s darkest, most secret desires and fears. The cluttered dramatic scenes, graffiti, wires, ropes and dolls…this closeness and compression exude an empty and silent atmosphere, showing a mysterious, wild and absurd sense.

The Theatre of the Absurd is a light space, populated by human characters, all of who enact the absurd process of living meaningfully in situations most might find hopeless. This work is about laying bare what is hidden and revealing our tendency to hide from things. It is the place of sexual desire and the unfathomable region where religions and beliefs grow and die.

Ballen’s world of hurt & hilarity isn’t designed for your comfort, but once you’ve been there you won’t soon forget it.

Roger Ballen’s Theater of the Absurd - will be on display at MiamiPhotoFest 2019 - Feb 27th - Mar 3rd.

Opening night RSVP, Limited Availability

Roger Ballen’s Theater of the Absurd is produced by Florida Photographic Foundation and supported in part by the Southeast Museum of Photography of Daytona State College and curated by Stephanie Diaz

Roger Ballen, a New Yorker, living and working in Johannesburg, South Africa for over 30 years. Ballen went to South Africa in 1982 as a geologist with a strong interest in photography. In the years since, he’s become one of that country’s most widely exhibited and controversial photographers–an artist who leads us further into his imagination’s darkest corridors with each new project.

His distinctive style has evolved from a documentary approach to something more abstract, metaphoric and introspective. Over the years he has developed his own private visual universe – combining photography, sculpture, films and installations. He describes his work as fundamentally psychological and existential; making art is an exercise in defining himself.

Mr Ballen’s work has been exhibited throughout the world and is represented in museum collections, such as Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France; the Tate, London, England and the Museum of Modern Art, New York, USA.