Ballen's surreal quasi-person creeps around hidden aspects of human existence

07 October 2020 - 09:58
In 'Roger the Rat' Ballen follows the life of a creature whose body appears human, but who has the head of a rat.
In 'Roger the Rat' Ballen follows the life of a creature whose body appears human, but who has the head of a rat.
Image: Supplied

Ratatouille was yesterday
Under the sign of the rat

Surreal, refined, disturbing: Roger Ballen has made a name for himself with his special eye for what is usually considered minor or outside, yet is nevertheless profound and touching. In his hands, the documentary power of the camera merges with the ingenious power of his imagination to look into a person’s soul and get under the viewer’s skin.

Elaborately produced between 2015 and 2020, his new project is called Roger the Rat. In oppressively sharp black-and-white shots, he follows the life of a creature whose body appears human, but who has the head of a rat.

Picture after picture, we witness scenes that - deconstructed and wrested from everyday gestures - reveal the suppressed aspects of human existence. The catalogue presents the cycle of paintings as an impressive show that keeps the reader reflecting long after the last page.