For almost two decades Roger Ballen, an American, has been photographing in the South African countryside, searching for aesthetic symbols to convey a sense of the place and the people.
Platteland was born of the profound irony that despite the political privilege apartheid had bestowed on whites, in the physical heart of the land there is inescapable testimony to the failure of the regime even to secure the well-being of the privileged minority.
Many of those people the photographer encounters feel strangled by poverty and preconception, rejected and downgraded. Above all else, most are severely alienated by the radical changes taking place in the society around them. In these powerful and riveting images. Roger Ballen penetrates a world that had previously been shrouded under the mantle of white supremacy.
Ballen has photographed his subjects on their own terms, in the intimacy of their homes, with friends and family, and even their pets. The images, though devoid of excess, stripped to their essence, are deceptively simple.
Platteland was published by William Waterman Publications in 1994; by Quartet Books, London, in 1994; and by St. Martin’s Press, New York, in 1996.