Monday October 31, 2016

Roger Ballen embraces the unmentioned parts of life

New York photographer Roger Ballen has been taking photographs for over 40 years.

New York photographer Roger Ballen has been taking photographs for over 40 years. (Roger Ballen and the Izzy Gallery)

Listen 10:28

Roger Ballen wants people to feel scared or unsettled when they look at his photos. 

"If you feel anxious or nervous, it means there's something blocked inside your own mind," he argues. "And these pictures hopefully will help you break that block, to come in touch with a part of yourself that you haven't been able to deal with."

Roger Ballen

A photo from Roger Ballen's 2009 book, Boarding House. (Roger Ballen and the Izzy Gallery)

For Ballen, this is how photography and art works best. When something is able to insert itself into one's minds immediately and make an impact. For him, this isn't frightening — it's a form of delight. 

So what does scare the famous photographer? 

"Life is scary," he says. "It's scary beacuse you can get obliterated at any second and you don't know if you're going to come back again." 

Roger Ballen

A photo from Roger Ballen's 2005 book, Shadow Chamber. (Roger Ballen and the Izzy Gallery)

Roger Ballen

A photo from Roger Ballen's latest series, The Theatre of Apparitions. (Roger Ballen and the Izzy Gallery)

Roger Ballen's Theatre of the Mind exhibition is running now at Toronto's Izzy Gallery (1255 Bay St.) until Nov. 19.

WEB EXTRA | Watch Roger Ballen's Theatre of Apparitions below.