05 February - 03 March 2013
Main & Mezzanine Galleries

The Playpen exhibition is a selection of photographs by Roger Ballen from his series’ Boyhood, Platteland, Outland, Shadow Chamber, Boarding House and new works from Asylum. Ballen consciously and carefully constructs his compositions and creates spaces that give the sensation that you are inside the image, cut off from the outside world but also from other spaces around you.

> View Exhibition Images

The opening event takes place on Tuesday 5th February at 6pm. Roger Ballen will be present. A guest lecture will be presented by Dr. Ballen at 11 AM on Wednesday 6th February at the KZNSA Gallery.

Ballen has produced a wide range of works and his photographs have been showcased in some of the most prestigious institutions around the globe. In addition, his images have been included in collections of institutions such as the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France; Victoria and Albert Museum, London, England and the Museum of Modern Art in New York, USA.  During his career as photographer Ballen has won many prestigious awards, such as the Best Solo Exhibition at the Sani Festival in Greece in 2000, Best Photographic Book of the year at PhotoEspana in Spain 2001, Photographer of the Year at Rencontres d' Arles in 2002, and the Art Directors Club Award Photography in 2006.

Playpen could be idealized as one of childhood’s utopias. The Playpen exhibition represents the opposite of this utopian notion of a child's play space. The depiction of fundamentally disturbing places and objects related to children (as selected for this exhibition) is based on the theoretical concept of heterotopia.  Heterotopia is a non-hegemonic “other” space of neither here, nor there, a real place that exists outside of known space. Playpen as heterotopia represents an abject parallel space associated with these children from the margins of society. Their surroundings seem impoverished and neglected; however the children do not seem to be influenced by their environment as we are.

Ballen and the children experience these depicted spaces as their playgrounds where they let their imagination go. The images transgress the boundaries of what is real and what appears to be. The gallery space, the photographs on the walls and the installation interacts with our identities and the memories that engulf us. The exhibition both isolates and connects visitors from and to their surroundings. The Playpen creates an imaginary order and reason which serve to stress the viewer’s inexistence elsewhere. It confronts us with reality and imagination.

Roger Ballen was born in New York City in 1950 and he has lived and worked in Johannesburg, South Africa since the 1970’s. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in Psychology at the University of California, Berkeley in 1972 and completed his PHD in Mineral Economics in 1981. He has been shooting black and white film for nearly fifty years and perceives black and white as a minimalist art form which provides an abstract way to interpret and transform what one might refer to as reality. Ballen’s work has developed from a photo-journalistic style during the eighties into a unique artistic vision which is described as painterly and sculptural in ways that aren’t normally associated with the art of photography. He explores the idea of art as a reflection on the self and the own psyche and more specifically as a form of self-inspection.



  • I Fink U Freeky. Award for best music video at the 20th Short Vila do Conde International Film Festival, Portugal, 2012
  • Finalist - Lucie Awards
    Curator/Exhibition of the Year: Roger Ballen: Photographs 1982 - 2009. Curated by Dr. Anthony Bannon for the George Eastman House, Rochester, New York.
  • Art Directors Club Award Photography - 2006
  • Selma Blair Witch Project - New York Times Magazine, October 31st 2005
  • Top 10 Exhibition, Matthew Higgs, Artforum-2004
  • Citigroup Prize, finalist, UK - 2002
  • Photographer of the Year, Rencontres d' Arles - 2002
  • Top 10 Exhibition, Vince Aletti, Artforum - 2002
  • PhotoEspana, Best Photographic Book of the Year, Spain - 2001
  • Photo-eye, Best Documentary Title, Best Photography Books of 2001
  • Sani Festival, Best Solo Exhibition, Greece, 2000
  • Special mention: UNICEF Photo of the Year 2001


  • I Fink U Freeky - Die Antwoord
    Music video, produced by Roger Ballen and Ninja - 2012
  • Memento Mori - a Saskia Vredeveld film
    From the world of photographer Roger Ballen. A Netherlands Film Fund & Peacefield Film - 2005
  • Selfportrait, Roger Ballen
    NPS Television. The Netherlands - 2002
  • Platteland: Images from Rural South Africa
    ITV Television, South Bank Show. London - 1995


Latest News

06 February 2013
Roger Ballen & Raksha Gobardan @ the KZNSA
Two new exhibitions opened last night, Tuesday 5th February.