installation Shots



Roger Ballen The Theatre of Apparitions

We are very proud of Roger Ballen‘s exhibition representing South Africa at the 59th Venice Biennale. The exhibition in Venice includes photographs from ‘The Theatre of Apparitions‘ series, which were exhibited for the first time at Zemack Contemporary Art in 2016. In honor of the exhibition at the Biennale, we are pleased to exhibit selected works from the project along with some interviews which were made during the 2016 show.

Roger Ballen was chosen as one of the three artists to represent South Africa at the 59th Biennale, “The Milk of Dreams”. South Africa’s national exhibition reflects the theme ‘Into the Light’ which complements the overarching theme ‘The Milk of Dreams’. Thus, instead of showing photographic prints from his series, “The Theatre of Apparitions”, Ballen alternatively exhibits these carefully selected works on lightboxes to accentuate the metaphoric relationship between light and dark.

Ballen’s Theatre of the Apparitions was initially inspired by the sight of hand-drawn carvings on blacked-out windows in an abandoned women’s prison in South Africa. The artworks are photographs of drawings that the artist made on windows inside a building in Johannesburg. By inventing various techniques using materials such as spray-paints, epoxies, resins, emulsions and brushes, the artist created an otherworld in which transient, ghost-like figures perform.  For Ballen, the photographs of these figures and the absurd activities in which they engage, present the unfathomable and primal scenes of our mental unconscious.

In particular, The Theatre of Apparitions is a place in which dreams, imaginative scenes and primordial memory from the afterworld manifest themselves. These spirits or ghosts are imperceptible to the eye, yet they are deeply embedded in our consciousness and in our being.



Dec 2016