art and psyche

The Skateroom continues its fine art colabs and teamed up with the South African photographer Roger Ballen. For the release of these new editions, The Skateroom presents a selection of iconic works that explore the rich and weird universe of the artist, offering a glimpse into Ballen’s art and psyche: A journey behind the mask and into the “Ballenesque”.

I met Ninja and Yo-Landi around 2006. They had seen my photographs from the Outland and Shadow Chamber series and wanted to collaborate. A few years later their music integrated with my visuals went viral culminating in the music video I Fink U Freeky which has now accumulated over one hundred million hits on youtube. I was invited by The Skateroom to attend the opening of Skateistan’s skate school in Johannesburg. During this event I took the opportunity to reinterpret Paul McCarthy’s visual he done to finance the skate school. I took the liberty of photographing one of the young skateboarders with a mask on, holding Paul McCarthy’s ‘Piggy’ Propo.

Following The Skateroom’s social model, by buying these limited editions of Roger Ballen, 20% of the profits from the sales will be donated by The Skateroom to the NGO Skateistan to help fund their programs in their Skate school in Johannesburg, South Africa. In addition, Roger Ballen is going to give photography classes to the children participating in Skateistan’s Skate and Create program in Johannesburg! 




Roger Ballen was born in New York in 1950, but for 30 years he has lived and worked in South Africa. His work as a geologist took him out into the countryside and led him to take up his camera and explore the hidden world of small South African towns. At first he explored the empty streets in the glare of the midday sun but, once he had made the step of knocking on people’s doors, discovered a world inside these houses which was to have a profound effect on his work. These interiors with their distinctive collections of objects ad the occupants within these closes worlds mind. After 1994 he no longer looked to the countryside for his subject matter finding it closer to home in Johannesburg.

Over the past thirty five years his distinctive style of photography has evolved using a simple square format in stark and beautiful black and white. In the earlier works his connection to the tradition of documentary photography is clear but through the 1990s he developed a style he describes as ‘documentary fiction’. After 2000 the people he first discovered and documented living on the margins of South African society increasingly became a cast of actors working with Ballen in the series ‘Outland’ (2000, revised in 2015) and ‘Shadow Chamber’ (2005) collaborating to create powerful psychodramas.