Roger Ballen embraces the unmentioned parts of life

The photographer rejects the idea that his work is disturbing
New York photographer Roger Ballen has been taking photographs for over 40 years. (Roger Ballen and the Izzy Gallery)

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."

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." 

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


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