Inside Roger Ballen’s Mind: A Place of Refuge and Madness

by James Estrin

Safe House – An asylum can be either a refuge or a place of madness. In Roger Ballen’s new book, “Asylum of the Birds,” it is both. His photographs were taken in Johannesburg in a dilapidated house that was inhabited by hundreds of birds – and dozens of immigrants, fugitives or homeless people.

Scary and funny the house, whose walls were covered in drawings by residents, became his project. “It’s a way of transforming what I’m seeing.” said Mr Ballen an American who has lived in South Africa for over 30 years. “I want to transform the physical world into the psychological world.”

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