The Theatre of Apparitions


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Pushing the boundaries of photography with sculpture, installation and an innate capacity to debunk our perceptional certainties, the South African photographer Roger Ballen has released his latest body of work in a monograph, The Theatre of Apparitions. Using a combination of dramatic performance and handcrafted image-making, Ballen drives deep into the psyche with his black and white images.

The book is divided into seven ‘acts’, defined by themes such as Fragmentation, Eros and Burlesque. The characters involved are anthropomorphic figures dancing ambiguously around sanity, looking playfully scary. The images, made of glass, paint, and light, are reminiscent of art brut and cave art. They release a primitive air, as if they addressed the deepest aspects responsible for equalizing the whole of mankind. Ballen has worked for over six years on the series, capturing hundreds of images that would depict feelings that are not easily defined and often repressed, whether consciously or not: his imagery gives life to the shadow side of our psychology.

The Theatre of Apparitions was featured in GUP #51, the Rituals issue.


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