This essay explores the photographer Roger Ballen’s series Boarding House in terms of the creature Odradek in Franz Kafka’s short story “Troubles of a Householder” and in terms of melancholia. Rather than mark identity and sense, the traces, traits, contours, orli, and splendores in Ballen’s photographs remain semiotically unclear, as do the arranged part-objects, people, and animals in the photographs. The French psychoanalyst Julia Kristeva’s (and French Romantic poet Gérard de Nerval’s) description of the Thing of melancholia as “a light without representation” provides a poetic and theoretical basis for thinking through these tangled images.
Other|November 01 2010
Roger Ballen: Boarding House
Gerhard Schoeman is a senior lecturer in the Department of History of Art and Visual Culture Studies, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa. His areas of research include Walter Benjamin, the melancholic image, the thinking image, film, and photography; he is currently completing a book titled Thinking Photography
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Nka (2010) 2010 (27): 129-131.
Gerhard Schoeman; Roger Ballen: Boarding House. Nka 1 November 2010; 2010 (27): 129–131. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10757163-2010-27-129
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