The Theatre of Apparitions
Roger Ballen and Marguerite Rossouw
The Theatre of Apparitions is a highly anticipated body of work by one of the most original image-makers of our times, whose remarkable artistic trajectory spans the past 40 years. This book is the culmination of his ongoing study of the connections between photography, drawing, the mind and the body. Created between the years 2004 and 2008, these 90-odd black-and-white images encourage viewers to delve deep into the darkest part of their psyches.
The images in this new monograph were inspired by the simple act of drawing on windows – a practice that Ballen observed first-hand in many communities. From there, he started to experiment using different spray paints on glass and then ‘drawing on’ or removing the paint with a sharp object to let natural light through. Finally, he photographed the results with a macro lens using black-and-white film. These black, dimensionless spaces effectively operate as canvases onto which Ballen projects pictorially his thoughts and emotions, creating, in effect, a theatre of the mind. The plates are separated into seven chapters or ‘acts’, with each one introduced by a text written by Ballen himself. Carving out a realm that is both earthly and otherworldly, physical and spiritual, his work transcends all traditional concepts of photography.