CityPress - - Voices -

mer­i­can critic and play­wright Su­san Son­tag once said that Amer­i­can pho­tog­ra­pher Diane Ar­bus pho­tographed “peo­ple who are pa­thetic, pitiable, as well as re­pul­sive,” from a van­tage point “based on dis­tance, on priv­i­lege, on a feel­ing that what the viewer is asked to look at is re­ally other”. This sounds a lot like the crit­i­cism regularly piled on South African pho­tog­ra­pher Roger Ballen – a voyeur of the “so­cial out­sider”, as he once put it.

Ballen is com­pared to Ar­bus in the fore­word of his latest lux­u­ri­ous mono­graph, Out­land, pub­lished by pic­ture-book pow­er­house Phaidon.

The Out­land is an imag­i­nary place in a bleak black-and-white land­scape that con­cep­tu­ally frames “the grey area be­tween fact and fic­tion” where we en­ter “the hid­den ter­ri­tory, the dark zones of

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