The Sozzani Foundation presents the exhibition "The Body, the Mind, the Space" by Roger Ballen, fifty photographs from the 1970s to the present, a video and a site-specific installation.
Rogen Ballen is one of the most relevant and original contemporary photographers, who reveals the invisible with often disturbing images, suspended in a space between painting, drawing, installation and photography.
American by birth, living in South African since 1982, over the past thirty years he developed a distinctive style of photography using a simple square format in stark and beautiful black and white. In his earlier works his connection to the tradition of documentary photography is clear but through the 1990s he developed a language he describes as “Ballenesque” that was instantly recognizable in the art world.
Ballen creates photographic works that border between reality and imagination. “Reality is a word that has no meaning for me. It’s unfathomable. I’d rather like to express the enigma of this world rather than reflect on its fundamental nature.”
The exhibition at the Fondazione Sozzani is developed into three themes.
Ballen’s black and white photographs are powerful psychological portraits, which peer deeply into the human condition, his characters act out an absurd tableau, creating photographs which are profound and enigmatic in equal measure.
Fossil-like facial forms and dismembered body parts coexist uncomfortably with vaporous, ghost-like shadows. Timeless and innovative, earthly and otherworldly, physical and spiritual. “There is no way accurately to describe this place…It is a hard place to get to. It took me many years not only to reach it, but also to define it visually.”
The mysterious, cell-like rooms in Ballen’s photographs are actual places, but they are unsettling, strange and illogical. The walls are covered with scribbled drawings, stains and dangling wires: the floors are strewn with bizarre props and artefacts. The altered sense of place contains drawn and sculptural elements, and the collaboration between artist and subject are clearly evident.