Photographer Roger Ballen has lived in Johannesburg for many years, and the strange spaces he finds in its suburbs make fascinating subjects for his photographs. Last week, we covered his series Outland – portraits of surreal lives being lived on the outskirts of the human mind. This week, we cover his latest series, taken in one house in the Johannesburg suburbs, the Asylum of the Birds. While his photographs document lives that call up the most disturbing emotions and understanding of the depths of the hierarchies human beings have created, they are less a stark portrayal than they are an artistic exploration, which in fact makes them more emotionally-charged and scary to behold. The Asylum of the Birds is covered in graffiti and excrement, humans and animals living together, on top of one another. It’s a nightmare, but it is also strangely beautiful. Ballen is capturing their home and their way of life, but he also curates what we see, taking us deeper into a mysterious conscious. He’s a master of creepy photos…you can pick up the Asylum of the Birds tome here.
Asylum of the Birds, directed by Ben Crossman