Photographer Roger Ballen: ‘I can live with myself’

The Guardian | Sean O’Hagan:


Roger Ballen caused a storm with his portraits of marginalised and mentally unstable South Africans. Is he merely reflecting a broken society – or exploiting his subjects? Sean O’Hagan meets the controversial photographer 


Man drawing chalk faces, 2000 

“People constantly compare me to Diane Arbus,” says Roger Ballen, wearily. “But I think Samuel Beckett is the key influence on my work. My photographs evoke the absurdity of the human condition, but they are also records of a personal psychological journey. For me, photography is a way of looking in the mirror.”

If all portraits are to some degree self-portraits, the photographs Ballen has made over the last 15 years would appear to be evidence of an intensely imaginative but deeply troubled psyche. An American who has lived in Johannesburg since the early 1980s, where he initially worked as a geologist, Ballen is an artistic outsider whose subjects tend to be actual outsiders: South Africa’s poor, many of whom are disabled or mentally unstable…


Read full article via source: