The work is composed of a series of black and white photographs produced in Johannesburg between 2015 and 2020, accompanied by a video made during the months of confinement.
Through these images, Roger Ballen documents a creature half-human, half-rat, living in isolation from society. The character, motivated by his loneliness, attempts to create new companions to share his daily life, but the isolation generates feelings of frustration and rage.
Roger the Rat personifies the impact of loneliness, exclusion, and the uncomfortable feeling of suffocation that afflicts human beings when confined in enclosed spaces. The psychic consequences of the pandemic are explored throughout the images through the absurd actions of the protagonist, which produce a feeling of identification and empathy on the part of the visitors.
The son of a photo editor at Magnum, Ballen has worked as a geologist and mining consultant before launching his own photographic career, documenting small villages in rural Africa and their isolated inhabitants. His images are at once powerful social allegories and disturbing psychological studies. Ballen’s work “Terrallende” was considered one of the most extraordinary photographic documents of the late 20th century. It was awarded Best Photographic Book of the Year at PhotoEspaña 2001 in Madrid. He was awarded Best Photographic Book of the Year at PhotoEspaña 2001 in Madrid.
His distinguished photographic style has evolved using simply a square format and a black and white color scheme. His early work has a clear influence on documentary photography, but during the 1990s he developed a style that he described as documentary fiction. His distinctive photographic style has evolved using simply a square format and black-and-white color scheme.