by Alina Filipoiu in New Photography on Thursday 23 August 2012

American photographer Roger Ballen has been living and photographing in South Africa since the late 1970s. His photographs have caused international controversy, excitement and debate ever since his book, Platteland: Images of a Rural South Africa, was published. I find the photographs to be both beautiful and profoundly disturbing.

This combination keeps me coming back to them, to look more carefully. The images are obviously staged, but they are troubling in their brutal raw reality. It would be easier to swallow if we could think of the characters as models or actors, following stage directions. But many of these images seem too real. The characters look like they are really strung out on the far edges of ordinary life.