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Roger Ballen
Roger and the Inner Voices, 2015. Portrait by Marguerite Rossouw
Roger Ballen
Roger Ballen

Roger Ballen

Country: United States
Birth: 1950

One of the most influential and important photographic artists of the 21st century, Roger Ballen's photographs span over forty years. His strange and extreme works confront the viewer and challenge them to come with him on a journey into their own minds as he explores the deeper recesses of his own.

Roger Ballen was born in New York in 1950 but for over 30 years he has lived and worked in South Africa. His work as a geologist took him out into the countryside and led him to take up his camera and explore the hidden world of small South African towns. At first he explored the empty streets in the glare of the midday sun but, once he had made the step of knocking on people's doors, he discovered a world inside these houses which was to have a profound effect on his work. These interiors with their distinctive collections of objects and the occupants within these closed worlds took his unique vision on a path from social critique to the creation of metaphors for the inner mind. After 1994 he no longer looked to the countryside for his subject matter finding it closer to home in Johannesburg.

Over the past thirty five years his distinctive style of photography has evolved using a simple square format in stark and beautiful black and white. In the earlier works in the exhibition his connection to the tradition of documentary photography is clear but through the 1990s he developed a style he describes as 'documentary fiction'. After 2000 the people he first discovered and documented living on the margins of South African society increasingly became a cast of actors working with Ballen in the series' Outland (2000, revised in 2015) and Shadow Chamber (2005) collaborating to create powerful psychodramas.

The line between fantasy and reality in his subsequent series' Boarding House (2009) and Asylum of the Birds (2014) became increasingly blurred and in these series he employed drawings, painting, collage and sculptural techniques to create elaborate sets. There was an absence of people altogether, replaced by photographs of individuals now used as props, by doll or dummy parts or where people did appear it was as disembodied hands, feet and mouths poking disturbingly through walls and pieces of rag. The often improvised scenarios were now completed by the unpredictable behaviour of animals whose ambiguous behaviour became crucial to the overall meaning of the photographs. In this phase Ballen invented a new hybrid aesthetic, but one still rooted firmly in black and white photography.

In his artistic practice Ballen has increasingly been won over by the possibilities of integrating photography and drawing. He has expanded his repertoire and extended his visual language. By integrating drawing into his photographic and video works, the artist has not only made a lasting contribution to the field of art, but equally has made a powerful commentary about the human condition and its creative potential.

His contribution has not been limited to stills photography and Ballen has been the creator of a number of acclaimed and exhibited short films that dovetail with his photographic series'. The collaborative film I Fink You Freeky, created for the cult band Die Antwoord in 2012, has garnered over 125-million hits on YouTube. He has taken his work into the realms of sculpture and installation, at Paris' Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature (2017), Australia's Sydney College of the Arts (2016) and at the Serlachius Museum in Finland (2015) is to name but a few. The spectacular installation at Les Rencontres d'Arles 2017, "House of the Ballenesque" was voted as one of the best exhibitions for 2017. In 2018 at the Wiesbaden Biennale, Germany, another installation "Roger Ballen's Bazaar/Bizarre" was created in an abandoned shopping centre.

Ballen's series, The Theatre of Apparitions (2016), is inspired by the sight of these hand-drawn carvings on blacked-out windows in an abandoned women's prison. Ballen 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. The results have been likened prehistoric cave-paintings: the black, dimensionless spaces on the glass are canvases onto which Ballen has carved his thoughts and emotions. He also released a related animated film, Theatre of Apparitions, which has been nominated for various awards.

In September 2017 Thames & Hudson published a large volume of the collected photography with extended commentary by Ballen titled Ballenesque Roger Ballen: A Retrospective.
 

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More Great Photographers To Discover

Frieke Janssens
Belgium
1980
Frieke janssens was born in bruges, belgium, in 1980. after starting with evening classes in photography at an age of 15, she skipped the pilot or police on a horse option. photography was her future. while studying photography at sint-lukas brussels she was mainly interested in lifestyle, sociology and stereotypes, because she felt like she was living in two worlds. now she's a brussels-based photographer. After graduating in 2002, frieke immediately started working as a photographer, where she tries to tell a story that’s fascinating and mostly avoids the clichés, or use them very consciously. she's inspired by different things from paintings, comics or even a real estate website, and works with an eye for detail, humour and surrealism. her pictures are how she imagines subjects in her head. It is often shown in the details: the clothes, the furniture and so on. a picture has succeeded, when you can look at it for a while. it can not only just be beautiful neither only interesting. it needs both. This has brought her not only gold, silver and bronze medals in creative competitions, but also commissions from successful agencies that include ddb, duval guillaume, famous, leo burnett, tbwa, saatchi & saatchi, ogilvy & mather, mortierbrigade for customers like brussels airlines, ing, mtv networks, volkswagen, red cross, senseo, signal and many more.AWARDS: 2008 shortlist cannes, 2007 gold & bronze new york festival, 2006 silver & bronze eurobest, 2005 gold new york festival, 2005 shortlist cannes Source: www.bransch.net
Iris Brito Stevens
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Rosita Delfino
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Trevor Cole
Herman Leonard
United States
1923 | † 2010
Herman Leonard was born in 1923 in Allentown, Pennsylvania to Romanian immigrants. At the young age of 9, he first witnessed an image being developed in his brother's darkroom and became enthralled with the magic of photography. As the official photographer for his high school, Herman quickly learned that with a camera in hand, he had an "open sesame" to people and events, that his shyness might have prevented him from experiencing. When it came time for college, Herman chose Ohio University, "The only university at the time that could offer me a degree in Photography". His college studies were interrupted from 1943-1945, as Herman joined the United States Army and was sent to Burma with the 13th Mountain Medical Battalion. He had hoped to be a field photographer, but was ironically assigned as a combat anesthetist when he failed a test, which required him to identify the chemical ingredients of film developer. After the war, Herman returned to college and graduated in 1947 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree. Upon graduation from Ohio University, he took a chance and drove to Ottawa, Canada in hopes of working with famed portraiture photographer, Yousuf Karsh. Karsh was impressed with his determination and took him on as an apprentice. Herman assisted Karsh in the darkroom and with photographic sittings including, Martha Graham, Harry Truman, and Albert Einstein. Karsh's photographic advice to Leonard, "Tell the truth, but in terms to beauty." During a portrait session with Albert Einstein, Leonard questioned the professor about the connection between a musician and a mathematician. Einstein's response, "Improvisation." Leonard was inspired by these two influential men and applied their credos to his work. In 1948, Herman's passion for jazz brought him to New York City's Greenwich Village, where he set up a small studio at 220 Sullivan Street. He made his way into the swinging clubs of Broadway, 52nd Street and Harlem. With his camera as his free ticket, he offered to shoot publicity stills at the jazz clubs for admission. While shooting at The Royal Roost and Birdland, he quickly developed friendships with the some of the greats of jazz royalty, including Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Lena Horne, Billie Holiday, Louis Armstrong, Quincy Jones and many more. His stunning photographs began appearing in Downbeat and Metronome magazines, and on the covers of albums while working for jazz producer Norman Granz. In 1956, he was hired by Marlon Brando as his personal photographer, and traveled with him on an extensive research trip throughout the Far East. Upon his return to NYC, he was offered a position at Barclay Records in Paris, France. He continued to photograph the prolific jazz scene, with many of the American jazz artists now living there, he also photographed many French recording artists such as Charles Aznavour, Jacques Brel, Eddy Mitchell and Johnny Hallyday. Paris would be his home for the next 25 years, working from his studio in Paris's Neuilly-sur-Seine neighborhood. He also had a successful career working in advertising, for fashion houses Yves St. Laurent and Dior, as well as many international magazines including Life, Time and early Playboy. In 1980, he left France for a more tranquil life, and moved his family to the Spanish island of Ibiza. During that time he rediscovered his jazz negatives that had been stored in a box under his bed, and in 1985 released his first book, The Eye of Jazz, published by Hachette/Filipachi Publications. In 1988 he moved to London where he had the first exhibition of his jazz photographs at the Special Photographers Company. After rave reviews by the London Times and the BBC, he became an overnight sensation, with 10,000 people coming to the small Notting Hill gallery to view his unseen images. The following year he premiered his first US show, which toured nationally. After living in Europe for over thirty years, he returned to the U.S. In 1992, an exhibit in New Orleans would change his life. He fell in love with the city and moved there to immerse himself in its vibrant and lively jazz scene. He continued to exhibit his work around the world in numerous solo shows. In 1995, Leonard released his second book, Jazz Memories, published by Editions Filipacchi, and in that same year was awarded an "Honorary Masters of Science in Photography" from The Brooks Institute of Photography. Other awards received at this time included the "Milt Hinton Award for Excellence in Jazz Photography," from Jazz Photographer's Association, the "Excellence in Photography Award" from the Jazz Journalists Association, and a "Lifetime Achievement Award" from Downbeat Magazine in 2004. In August 2005, Hurricane Katrina destroyed his home and studio when it was flooded with over 8 feet of water. The storm claimed his life's work, some 8,000 silver gelatin photographs that had been hand printed by him, a master printer in his own right. As the storm blew in, Leonard's crew had gathered the negatives and securely placed them in the care of the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, where they were stored in an upper level vault. At the age of 82, and with his city in ruins, he decided to move with his family to Los Angeles to reestablish his life and business. In 2006, he released his third book, "Jazz, Giants, And Journeys: The Photography of Herman Leonard", published by Scala Publishers, Ltd. In the forward to the book, Quincy Jones wrote, "When people think of jazz, their mental picture is likely one of Herman's." Herman Leonard's photographs, now considered fine art collector's items, are a unique record of the jazz scene in the 1940's, 50's and 60's. Throughout his long life, he traveled and lived around the world, capturing images with his distinctive style. Whether he was photographing Miles Davis, Frank Sinatra, Louis Armstrong or a street musician in his home in New Orleans, Herman's smile, warmth and engaging personality continued to open doors for him and his camera; to reveal a world we might have missed. Certainly Herman Leonard's iconic photographs will long be remembered not only for their enduring historic significance, but also for their breathtaking artistic beauty. They are part of the permanent archives of the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C., where they are considered as essential to American music history as Benny Goodman's clarinet or Louis Armstrong's trumpet. His legacy has continued to be honored with major touring exhibitions of his work including the GRAMMY Museum in Los Angeles, Jazz at Lincoln Center in NYC, the San Francisco Jazz Center (SFJAZZ), The National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC, and The Clinton Presidential Center. President Bill Clinton has called Herman Leonard, "The greatest jazz photographer in the history of the genre." In the last years of his life, Herman Leonard's goal was to bring his entire jazz collection, comprising a visual documentation of America's original art form, back to life and preserve it for future generations. Source: hermanleonard.com
Madison Casagranda
United States
Madison Casagranda is a recent graduate from Brigham Young University where she studied photography and art education. She works primarily with alternative photographic processes in the darkroom, and enjoys the hands-on nature of these processes. Her goal is to communicate culturally and historically significant concepts and connect us to the past in order to address challenges in the present day. Her photography most often centers around her personal and family history, United States history, anti racism, and amplifying voices from marginalized communities. She has had two solo exhibitions at BYU and her work has been included in many group exhibitions across the country, including at The Springville Museum of Art, The Southeast Center for Photography, and The Praxis Gallery. Her work has been published in Communication Arts and she is currently working on self publishing a book of her series, The Black Stories Project. The Black Stories Project The wet plate collodion tintype process was first invented in the 1850s and became a primary photographic practice in the 1860s and 1870s, documenting much of the Civil War. The tintypes of the Black Stories Project embody the history of photography and the history of racial inequity in the United States and more specifically in the state of Utah. They draw a connection between the history of racism and the dialogue about race today. In a state where the black population is less than two percent and a dominant religious culture presents a unique and complicated narrative of the past and present, we can only address the current issues of systemic inequality while acknowledging and grappling with the history behind them. This project is a study about how the weight of our state's history and the lens through which it is told, affects how black individuals experience life here today. The Black Stories Project is made up of the portraits and voices of members of the black community here in Utah, and stands as an effort towards opening the conversation, understanding the past and changing the future narrative of our history. The Black Stories Project Madison Casagranda's Website Madison Casagranda on Instagram SOLO EXHIBITION MAY 2021
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