Ahead of its grand opening during South Africa Heritage Weekend in September this year, the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (Zeitz MOCAA) has announced massive gifts from the Roger Ballen Foundation as well as the Eiger Foundation to establish a Centre for Photography at the museum.
The donation means that the sometimes controversial work of Ballen, who five years ago also directed a music video for Die Antwoord, will be archived in its entirety in the museum of contemporary art in Cape Town.
Born in New York in 1950, Ballen has lived in South Africa for more than 30 years.
Commenting on his donation, Ballen said it had been his greatest desire to contribute to the understanding of photography in South Africa in the country that he calls home.
“By donating my archive and finance to Zeitz MOCAA, I wish to commit to the ongoing success of this important museum in Africa and ensure that photography is guaranteed a place in the museum’s activities.”
The Roger Ballen Foundation donation includes a signed edition of all work produced by Roger Ballen from 1968–1982 to the museum’s permanent collection as well as a signed edition of all works produced by Roger Ballen from now until the artist’s death.
In recognition of this enormous bequest, the Centre for Photography has been named the Roger Ballen Foundation Centre for Photography.
According to the Zeitz MOCAA, the mission of the Roger Ballen Foundation Centre for Photography is to collect, preserve, research, and exhibit cutting edge contemporary photography, and artworks that use photography, from Africa and its diaspora, to develop supporting educational and enrichment programs, to encourage intercultural understanding and guarantee access for all. The Centre will also exhibit temporary exhibitions of photographers from all over the world to expose local audiences and practitioners to the rich legacy of photography globally.
“Zeitz MOCAA is honoured to become the guardian and archive of Roger Ballen’s work and the legacy that he leaves through the Roger Ballen Foundation Centre for Photography,” said Azu Nwagbogu, Founder and Director of Lagos Photo Festival, and Curator at Large of Photography at the Roger Ballen Foundation Centre for Photography.
“Ballen remains an inspiration to photographers seeking a unique visual language and his contribution will ensure a professional platform for photographers from across the African continent. It will enable their work to be collected, preserved and exhibited far into the future.”