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Debating Ballen

Join us on Friday September 14th at the SPAO Centre (77 Pamilla St.) at 7 pm for the next session in our 2018 speakers’ series, Parfocal Lens, which will focus this time on the issues raised by our current exhibition, Roger Ballen: There Is No Outside. Based in Johannesburg, the American artist Roger Ballen is a controversial figure because of the way that his photographs depict people who are marginalized in South African society.

SPAO has invited three panelists to respond to Ballen’s work, especially with reference to the way it intersects with their personal histories. The artist Jennifer Dickson left South Africa to pursue an art career ultimately in North America. The art historian and curator Charles Reeve organized an exhibition of Ballen’s work at the Ontario College of Art and Design. The social scientist Patrick Lynn Rivers, whose design research practice is partly based in Cape Town, will speak to Ballen's work with reference to apartheid South Africa and the present moment.

The panel will be moderated by Monica Patterson, a scholar, curator, and activist whose work explores the intersections of memory, childhood, and violence in postcolonial Africa, and the ways in which they are represented and engaged in contemporary public spheres. In conjunction with the dark and troubling images of the exhibition, the conversation is certain to be both challenging and illuminating.

Panelists’ Bios:

Jennifer Dickson is one of Canada’s most distinguished photographic artists. Born in South Africa, she established an international reputation as an artist working in England and France before becoming a Canadian citizen in 1974. Her work is in numerous public collections, notably the British Museum, London; the French State Collection, Paris; and the Metropolitan Museum, New York.

Charles Reeve is an Associate Professor in the faculties of Liberal Arts & Sciences/School of Interdisciplinary Studies and Art at OCAD University in Toronto. He established the OCAD Professional Gallery where he curated several exhibitions, including Roger Ballen: Boarding House in the winter of 2009. He has published widely, with a special emphasis on artists’ autobiographies.

Patrick Lynn Rivers co-directs Afield, a design research practice with projects in Cape Town, Chicago, and Montreal. Much of his work rests at the intersections of design and social science in the Global South and particularly in South Africa. He is a professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Monica Patterson is an Assistant Professor in the Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies at Carleton University. Her research examines the multiple understandings of childhood in late-apartheid South Africa. Patterson is involved with “Thinking through the Museum: Difficult Knowledge in Public,” a multidisciplinary project which explores new ways of learning from histories of violence and conflict.

 

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