House of the Ballenesque (Arles-2017)

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“The House of the Ballenesque is a place where the different parts of my photography and installation art come together, a place where all things are possible. Each room in this house represents an important aspect of my aesthetic. My journey in photography has proved to me that the home is a place of deep discovery. Where people seek refuge from the outside, they often make the most perilous journey inward. There is something suggestive of life lived in its fullness with all its complexity in the weighty presence of the unmade bed, the frayed couch, the broken window, the rickety chair, the skew picture, the wounded plastic doll. Working from the metaphor of the mind as a house, the viewer is guided along a path of association based on analogies between images, from darkness to light, from cellar to attic.”
Roger Ballen

Before going to see this exhibition, I listen to “I fink you freely but I like you a lot” a music video Ballen made with a group called Die Antwoord which I find eerie, amusing and at times horrific and which also contains some great dance moves.

 

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What to say of the shabby interiors of the house Ballen has converted into an art installation!? The lower floors contain little if anything photographic. Upstairs there are photographic prints on the walls.

 

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The atmosphere is uncomfortable. Death is present in the skeletons and bones, there are ghostly projections, chains, faceless figures, snakes, rats yet it is not overpoweringly horrible.

 

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Something allows one to see beyond the misery and sadness; Ballen himself is not a monster.

 

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The work seems to be a powerful and original example of surrealistic art.

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