Roger Ballen

"My photographs are psychological in nature and the goal is to penetrate the viewers conscious mind and lodge itself in the subconscious."


Visual Artist




COL: What are the main reasons you are joining us for the festival this year?        
RB: I am always delighted to show my work in different new places and experiencing new events.  

COL: What is the most important drive for you to create and why?
RB: Photography should ultimately be a means to allow one to better get to know oneself.

COL: Who or what do you value as a great inspiration for you creatively?
RB: My mother worked in Magnum in New York in the 1960's and started one of the first photo galleries in New York. I have been passionate about photography for almost 50 years now and decided to turn it into a profession from a hobby around 2005.

COL: Can you elaborate on an important moment in your life where you experienced a big change, chose to make one or another event which altered your way of thinking or your approach to creativity ?
RB: There is never really only one answer or one moment.  Understanding the unconscious part of the mind is a very essential process in better understanding oneself.  My photographs are psychological in nature and the goal is to penetrate the viewers conscious mind and lodge itself in the subconscious.

COL: How does digital and social media affect or inspire your life and creations?
RB: I get my biggest inspiration from my own work.  To create an existence of reality from nothing will always inspire me. Digital and social media has never inspired my life or creations.

Head Below Wires, 1999 - ©Roger Ballen, Courtesy WILLAS contemporary.jpg

COL: What do you define art? 
RB: Use a medium to express your artistic vision in such a way that other people can relate and also get to develop themselves, whether it be physically or mentally. Good art should stay in the mind.

COL: What is your definition of artistic freedom?  
RB: To be able to constantly look into and develop my subconscious and be able to freely show that in my work.

COL: What do you aspire to? In the near future? In life in general?
RB: To stay and live healthy with friends and family. To be able take pictures that expands my consciousness and of those who are interested in viewing them.

COL: What is a great example of a fashion art collaboration in your view?
RB: I had the privilege to work with Rei Kawakubo in 2015 on a collaboration for the Comme des Garcons.  Rei has great artistic and aesthetic sensibility and her sense of fashion combined with my art made it the most ideal collaboration between fashion and art.

COL: Where do you think art and fashion is heading in our digital age?
RB: Art and fashion is a very big field.  There has always been a very strong tendency to incorporate fashion into art and for art to be integrated into fashion.  And of course vice versa. It has greatly accelerated over the last decade.  It is difficult to differentiate where art and fashion begins and the other ends.