A portrait of a child sitting on the floor, its head tucked so deep in its sweater, it appears no more than a lifeless torso. This image is part of a creative ,weird and well thought-through body of work by photographer Roger Ballen entitled Playpen, currently on exhibition at the University of Cape Town’s Michaelis Gallery .
Ballen depicts the darker side of the world through images. He is originally from the United States of America, but has been working in South Africa since the 70’s.
His work reflects the way he sees the world and how inquisitive he is about the odd things in life. Some of Ballen’s previous works are Boyhood , Platteland and Boarding House and in all of this work, there is a strong and unsettling way of portraying childhood.
On Wednesday morning, the Live Cape Town Photography team went to the exhibition. At every gaze of the images, I wondered about the thought process of the photographer , what he was thinking and the message he is trying to put across. All the images on the exhibition were black and white, but in reality are various shades of grey, just like the world he explores.
Ballen has a way of capturing the viewer’s attention and making one feel a sense of unease. His work evoked questions about him as an individual and about his childhood.
Playpen is on display now until Friday the 4th of October from 11 am till 4pm at the Michaelis Gallery in the CBD.