Roger Ballen's 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. Over the past thirty 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 1995 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 and Shadow Chamber collaborating to create disturbing psychodramas.

The line between fantasy and reality in his more recent series Boarding House and Asylum (to be published in 2013) has become increasingly blurred and in these series he has employed drawings, painting, collage and sculptural techniques to create elaborate sets. People are now often absent altogether; replaced by photographs of people used as props, by doll or dummy parts or where they do appear as its disembodied hands, feet and mouths poking disturbingly through walls and pieces of rag. The often improvised scenarios are completed by the unpredictable behaviour of the animals which appear snapped in an instant of observation. Ballen has invented a new hybrid aesthetic in these works but one still rooted firmly in photography.

This retrospective presented at ROSPHOTO covers three decades of work from his early series, Dorps and the highly charged and controversial series Platteland, OutlandShadow Chamber and Boarding House through to unseen new work from the series, Asylum.

In addition to his photographs visitors can see his recent collaborations with filmmaker Saskia Vredeveld and Zef-style rap-rave crew, Die Antwoord for whom he directed the YouTube video sensation to their song I fink u freeky.