Roger Ballen: Fly Me Away ‘This crazy life, This crazy world, We're living in is magical’ (Goldfrapp – ‘Fly Me Away’) Located not far outside Johannesburg is a big empty space, a space where people are divided up with blankets, sheet metal and wood… a place that Roger Ballen calls ‘The Boarding Roger Ballen: Fly Me Away House’. Between 2004 and 2008, the photographic artist would spend five days a week living and interacting with the people there, capturing those individuals on film who saw The Boarding House not as a big empty space but as Home. one small seed met with Roger Ballen at the exhibition for this body of work and uncovered a little bit more about this and Roger’s own intriguing world. Hanging Pig (2001) – Shadow Chamber After completing his third photographic volume, Platteland (created 1986–1994; published 1996), Roger Ballen changed direction. A new aesthetic emerged from his new interaction, as an artist, with his subject matter in the construction of each image. A team of two, Roger Ballen and the world, embarked on a voyage to find the obscure in the most banal or surprising of objects. His experiences Words: Sarah Claire Picton / Images: © Roger Ballen during these years would ultimately culminate in his latest project: Boarding House (2009). Talking Heads nailed it in their debut hit ‘Psycho Killer’: ‘You’re talkin’ a lot, but you’re not sayin’ anything.’ There does seem to be a lot of loose talk along these lines nowadays: recycled broken-line bullshit that sounds so damn sweet to say out loud. But sometimes one is lucky enough to encounter an individual whose words and images are so powerful, so transcendent, that they leave you just a little less jaded… and a little more real. Meeting Roger Ballen at the Iziko Museum in Cape Town was a surreal and humbling experience… a rare lunchtime interlude that warranted no refined plastic questions. The photographs that make up Boarding House stole all concentration and left me lost in memories of experiences I’m not quite sure were ever real. I was cast into an internal dialogue of uncertainty, lingering with that bitter aftertaste of spending too much time in one’s own head. With Roger Ballen’s distant eyes lost in memories, and mine in my thoughts, a raw and unfamiliar dialogue unravelled.