Organising the world through photography

Renowned American artist Roger Ballen opens Archetypes exhibition in Sofia

Photo: BTA Roger Ballen

One of the most influential photographers of the 21st century, American Roger Ballen, made his first visit to Bulgaria to open his retrospective Archetypes at the Square 500 Gallery on 13 November. Two days later, he gave a lecture in which he talked about photography and what lies beyond it, about art that lasts and the stages his art has gone through over time.

The show presents 80 monochromatic shots taken in South Africa between 1982 and 2014 and will make a stop in Plovdiv after its stint in the capital.

“Archetypes is a story about chaos, fears, shadows, illusions and everything else that makes us. The exhibition offers a commentary on some of the most popular archetypical conditions of the human psyche and is taking us on a journey from darkness to light, from the absurd to the ironic, from desperation to liberation,” says the event's curator Danislava Delcheva.

According to the artist himself, his photographs are dominated by symbols from the deepest layers of the human subconscious - an untameable space governed by its own rules and laws.

“My photographs connect my most sacred self with the outside world. Nevertheless, there are countless opportunities and it is up to me to organise the world with the help of the camera. You could say I am someone who is about creating visual coherence from chaos,” says Roger Ballen.

He is a co-director and the artistic director of the video I Fink U Freeky, which marks the beginning of his collaboration with the Die Antwoord hip hop group. With his signature aesthetics and penchant for provocation, Ballen has established himself as one of the most influential photographers, embraced by every new generation recognising his art as a life philosophy and a symbol of the time we live in. His images are a collection of people, animals, drawings and installations that build a world walking the line between reality and fiction.

Roger Ballen was born in New York in 1950 but has lived in Johannesburg, South Africa, for more than 30 years. His works are in the museum collections of MoMA (New York), Tate Britton (London), Victoria and Albert (London), the Pushkin Museum (Moscow), Pompidou (Paris) and many others.

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