Roger the Rat

by Roger Ballen

“I cannot remember when I put this rat mask on for the first time. Maybe I was born with it. I am not sure what is underneath. I never take it off: I sleep with it, bathe with it. I have heard people call me a rat and others a human with a mask. I am unsure whether I am a rat or human.” – Roger the Rat

Throughout his career, Roger Ballen has pursued a singular artistic goal: to give expression to the human psyche and visually explore the hidden forces that shape who we are. In these sixty black-and-white photographs Ballen creates a persona, Roger the Rat. Here, Ballen unveils a selection of uncanny photographs so completely different from his previous work, yet still possessing the unmistakable Ballenesque aesthetic. Produced in Johannesburg between 2015 and 2020, Ballen creates and documents a part-human, part-rat creature who lives an isolated life outside of mainstream society. This book presents the cycle of photographs in the form of an impressive show that keeps the reader reflecting upon them long after the last page has been turned.