A portrait according to Roger Ballen


The Roger project is a commissioned documentary portrait of Roger Ballen and setting up of installation he has been creating for his solo show and catalogue World According to Roger Ballen, 1. 7. – 26. 9. 2021 at the Jakopič Galery, MGML in Ljubljana, Slovenia. The series of portraits were culminated over days before and after the gallery opening in spring 2021. Roger Ballen is an accomplished American contemporary art photographer based in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Roger Ballen—Roger and the Chicken
Roger and the Chicken / As part of photographic shows Roger Ballen started to develop installations including this larger than life chicken looking over the chicken section of the show.

Roger Ballen—Comforting His Installations
Comforting His Installations / Setting these installations as part of the overall show gave the space an additional feeling of creepy. “Faces”—whether on photographs, drawn or installations—are constantly following you, looking at you directly in the eyes.

Roger Ballen—Stuffing It Up
Stuffing It Up / Just before the gallery opening one realises that the stuffed objects are less cooperative than expected, but at the end they had been tamed and set just right

Roger Ballen—In Dialogue with an Installation and a Photo
In Dialogue with an Installation and a Photo / Debating which object—the real object or the photograph of the real object—is more real or convincing can lead you into a strange underworlds of downward spirals. Roger Ballen feels very much at home in these spaces, moreover, he often actively seek it.

Roger Ballen—Looking Down on Them Lovingly
Looking Down on Them Lovingly / Strange as this may seem the relationships between subjects, objects and photographs is often a blurred one in Roger Ballen’s world; according to him the they all share equal importance in his work. However, Roger says that his relationships with subjects are never professional, rather, they are friends, he is sometimes social worker to his subjects, psychologist, organiser and alike.

Roger Ballen—Teaching a Stuffed Animal
Teaching a Stuffed Animal / Following on every step of the artists you cannot ignore the the strange discussion that the artist and his subjects / objects have. Here Roger tests which pair of teddybears works best together.

Roger Ballen—Graffitiing
Graffitiing / The printed titles are just a little too sterile for Roger Ballen who loves intervening directly onto the wall with chalk or charcoal.

Roger Ballen—Him and the Rat
Him and the Rat / One of the most common iconography that Roger Ballen depicts is a rat. He likes to repeat that “a rat is one of the most intelligent animals we know”. He adds, that he has several rats back in Johannesburg as a house pet.

Roger Ballen—His Final Touches
His Final Touches / As part of the several installations and many large photographs, Roger Ballen also decorated the brutalist concrete columns standing prominent near the entrance to the Jakopič gallery. A charcoal and calk drawings are depicting mythical creatures, animals like rats and other unidentified characters.

Roger Ballen—Under the Scull
Under the Scull / Roger Ballen in action finishing the drawing on the columns near the entrance to the Jakopič gallery.

Selected photographs have been printed in the publication World According to Roger Ballen, published by the Jakopič Galery, MGML in Ljubljana, Slovenia in 2021; ISBN 978-961-95193-1-8.



I work multidisciplinary across experimental art, facilitation, design and photography. I explore strategies and formats of how to engage myself and others in an exchanging dialogue.

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