Roger the rat

Roger the rat

Roger Ballen


Festival Year :


Exhibition Description

On the edge of mainstream society lives a part-rat part-human creature, free from the constraints of society living amongst disorder and immorality. 

In his most recent work, Roger Ballen, one of the worlds most significant contemporary photographers, creates a new persona, 'Roger the Rat'. While in keeping with his uncanny, black and white aesthetic, known as Ballenesque, these images are entirely different to the work he has produced in the past. 

Roger's work explores the human psyche and forces that make us who we are, including those we repress and never celebrate. 

Roger the Rat represents the human consciousness, acting out his inner state of mind on every impulse. In a world of societal norms, striving for purpose and stability, he lives in chaos and disorder. He personifies that which is feared, avoided and repressed, all with an eerie grin. 

In the words of Roger the Rat himself, “There is little hope of a better world until humanity comes to terms with the unpleasant fact that repression and fear are ultimately the masters of their destiny.”


This exhibition is outdoors. Please check what COVID-19 restrictions are in place before you visit.

Artist Bio

One of the most influential and important photographic artists of the 21st century, Roger Ballen's photographs span over forty years. His work has won numerous awards and is held in notable museum collections around the world, including MoMA (New York), Getty Museum (LA), TATE Britain (London) and the Art Gallery of NSW.

Born in New York in 1950, Roger Ballen has lived and worked in South Africa for over 30 years. His work as a geologist led him to take his camera into the field. His photography became profoundly influenced by the interiors of homes in small South African towns - their distinctive collections of objects and the occupants within these closed worlds.

Roger's unique vision forged a path from social critique to his 'documentary fiction' style and the creation of metaphors for the inner mind. His more recent, powerful psychodramas feature a cast of actors who work with him in Johannesburg, living on the margins of society.

Roger's distinctive style of photography has evolved using a simple square format in stark and beautiful black and white. His art has increasingly explored the possibilities of integrating photography and drawing, making a lasting contribution to the field of art.

Not limited to stills photography, Ballen has explored short films, sculpture and installation. The collaborative film I Fink You Freeky created for the cult band Die Antwoord in 2012 has garnered over 125-million hits on YouTube. His spectacular installation at Les Rencontres d'Arles 2017, "House of the Ballenesque" was voted one of the best exhibitions for 2017.

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Monday - Sunday: 10:00 am-6:00 pm

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