Dorps: Small Towns of South Africa is about a part of “Old Africa” that is quickly disappearing.
For many years, Roger Ballen, an American, has travelled widely throughout South Africa, visiting its scattered towns and villages. During this time he has developed a unique vision toward little-known corners and artifacts, trading stores, old houses and humble people. Textured with time, these photographs reveal the essence of these places.
The vision is pure. It is direct. It does not rely upon photographic processing tricks. We can only marvel that the most commonplace subject matter becomes poetic, and that the fragment becomes an artistic unit. Perhaps no more intimate portrait exists of these towns.
Looked at as a cumulative affirmation of an artist’s vision and intention, these images define a body of work which is surely one of the purest and strongest aesthetic statements ever made in South African photography.
Dorps: Small Towns of South Africa was published by Hirt and Carter, Cape Town, in 1986, and reprinted by Protea Boekhuis in 2011.