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Roger Ballen Photography


Asylum of the Birds

Thames and Hudson, 2014.
Asylum of the Birds

Roger Ballen is one of the most original image makers of the twenty-first century. Asylum of the Birds showcases his iconic photographs, which were all taken entirely within the confines of a house in a Johannesburg suburb, the location of which remains a tightly guarded secret. The inhabitants of the house, both people and animals, and most notably the ever-present birds, are the cast who perform within a sculptural and decorated theatrical interior that the author creates and orchestrates.

The resulting images are compelling and dynamic, existing somewhere between still life and portrait. They are richly layered with graffiti, drawings, animals, and found objects. In a world where photographers seek to avoid definition, Roger Ballen is a true original who not only defies genres, but has defined his own artistic space as well.

Asylum of the Birds was published by Thames and Hudson in March 2014.

Order the Asylum of the Birds book.

To watch the film, visit

For information on the traveling exhibition, visit