Asylum of the Birds showcases Ballen’s iconic photographs, which were all taken entirely within the confines of a house in a Johannesburg suburb, the location of which remains a tightly guarded secret. The inhabitants of the house, both people and animals, and most notably the ever-present birds, are the cast who perform within a sculptural and decorated theatrical interior that the author creates and orchestrates. The resulting images are compelling and dynamic, existing somewhere between still life and portrait. They are richly layered with graffiti, drawings, animals, and found objects. In a world where photographers seek to avoid definition, Roger Ballen is a true original who not only defies genres, but has defined his own artistic space as well.
Roger Ballen was born in New York, but has based himself in South Africa for the past 30 years. 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.
Thames & Hudson is a publisher of illustrated books on art, architecture, design, and visual culture.