Theatre of Apparitions

The Theatre of Apparitions

  1. Roger Ballen
  2. In collaboration with Marguerite Rossouw
  • ISBN 9780500544648
  • 24.00 x 17.00 cm
  • Hardback
  • 192pp
  • With 98 illustrations in duotone
  • First published 2016

A groundbreaking, immersive new monograph from Roger Ballen, one of the world’s most original and critically acclaimed art photographers

Theatre of Apparitions

‘… marks a departure from [Roger Ballen’s] previous work, yet continues in the same tradition of his unique aesthetic’ – Feature Shoot

Roger Ballen is best known for his psychologically powerful and intricately layered images that exist in a space between painting, drawing, installation and photography.

The Theatre of Apparitions is both a departure from his existing oeuvre and the culmination of his unique aesthetic linking image-making and theatrical performance. Separated into seven chapters or ‘acts’, with each one introduced by a text written by the photographer, these ‘Ballenesque’ images take readers on a journey deep into their subconscious.

Initially inspired by blacked-out windows seen in an abandoned women’s prison, Ballen started to experiment using different spray paints on glass and then ‘drawing on’ or removing the paint with a sharp object to let natural light through. The resulting images are like prehistoric cave-paintings: the black, dimensionless spaces on the glass are canvases onto which Ballen carves his thoughts and emotions. Fossil-like facial forms and dismembered body parts co-exist uncomfortably with vaporous, ghost-like shadows – these images have the capacity to shock, inspire, amuse and even elate viewers.

Timeless and innovative, earthly and otherworldly, physical and spiritual, this work transcends all traditional concepts of photography.

Roger Ballen is the recipient of numerous awards, including ‘Photographer of the Year’ at Rencontres d’Arles in 2002 and ‘Photography Book of the Year’ for Outland at Photo España in 2001. Thames & Hudson published his monograph Asylum of the Birds in 2014. Colin Rhodes has written and lectured widely contemporary art. He is the author of the influential Outsider Art, also published by Thames & Hudson.