Asylum of the Birds
Asylum of the Birds is a new body of work by Roger Ballen, one of the most original image-makers of our times. Ballen has always sought to push the boundaries of photographic practice and has created an aesthetic and artistic vision unlike any other contemporary photographer. The images in Asylum of the Birds have been photographed entirely within the confines of a house in a Johannesburg suburb, the location of which remains a tightly guarded secret. The inhabitants of the house, both people and animals, and most notably the ever-present birds, are the cast who perform within a sculptural and decorated theatrical interior that Ballen creates and orchestrates. The resulting images are painterly, complex and surreal. They are richly layered with graffiti, drawings, animals and found objects. In a world where photographers seek to avoid definition, and whose work is often banal, Ballen is a true original who not only defies genres, but has defined his own artistic space as well.