“If I were asked to name the chief benefit of the house, I should say: the house shelters day-dreaming, the house protects the dreamer, the house allows one to dream in peace.” – Gaston Bachelard.
Roger Ballen is an American-born photographer, who has lived and worked in South Africa since the 1970s. He will hold his first exhibition at Gallery MOMO, Cape Town. Ballen will be showcasing a recent collaborated project called The House Project. Ballen worked together with Didi Bozzini (Parma based, Italian curator, critic and writer) on The House Project. Ballen’s fascination with the subconscious mind focuses on a sense of the absurd and the exploration of a world on the fringes of society and rationality.
The House Project, draws on the Analytical Psychological theories of Carl Gustav Jung; using his analytical insights into the symbolic imagination, which according to Jung is situated in the collective unconscious of the mind, the psychical sphere that houses the archetypes. In addition to the psychological theories of Jung, Ballen also references Gaston Bachelard’s reflections on the ‘material imaginary’ and the ‘poetics of space’. Bachelard in The Poetics of Space states: “To say that the poetic image is independent of causality is to make a rather serious statement. But the causes cited by psychologists and psychoanalysts can never really explain the wholly unexpected nature of the new image, any more than they can explain the attraction it holds for a mind that is foreign to the process of its creation”.
Ballen furthermore explains: “Working from the metaphor of the mind as a house, which both these thinkers [Jung and Bachelard] share, we [Ballen and Bozzini] attempted to organize an anthology in which the photographs, regardless of date, would follow an ascending course, guiding the viewer along a path of association based on analogies between images, from darkness to light, from cellar to attic” (Didi Bozzini, extract from the book The House Project).
The nature of his personal path as an artist, which unquestionably points to an aesthetic canon, but at the same time is essentially tied to existential concerns, would seem to justify an approach that moves away from the historical perspective, favouring a psychological one, and with it, evoking the possible literary or philosophical references in his works.
Ballen’s previous award-winning books include: Asylum of the Birds (2014), Boarding House (2009), Shadow Chamber (2005),Outland (2001) and Platteland (1994). Roger Ballen’s photographs are collected by some of the most important institutions in the world and he has won numerous prestigious awards in photography and filmmaking.
The House Project will open at Gallery MOMO, Cape Town on 24 March at 18:00 and run until 28 April 2016.
Ballen’s The House Project book will also be on sale on the evening of the opening.