Roger Ballen – Die Antwoord

A VIDEO BY ROGER BALLEN                                                   I FINK U FREEKY by DIE ANTWOORD

Many of you may remember Roger Ballen here from his Boarding House essay, also published in Burn 01.  Roger was also kind enough to interact with this audience. This is a very interesting example of a conceptual still photographer making a video. This video took 5 days of shooting, but was “years in conceptualizing”, says Roger.

“We had really clear concepts of what we wanted to do in our heads. We started with my photographs for ideas, and then mimicked them in the sets.” says Roger.

I have watched this a dozen times now, and see some new piece each time. Cannot get it out of my head.


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Roger Ballen



182 Responses to “Roger Ballen – Die Antwoord”

  • Didn’t realize author was on burn :] Great video, I like The Antwoord as well, this clip fits them perfectly. Ninja is adapting lots of GG Allin in his image.

  • WOW! perfect blend! had to go back to his essay here and will be looking through burn 01 tonight!
    awesome stuff!

  • I think you’re FREAKY
    I like you A LOT!

    You are one of the Greatest of all times…
    And thank you Burn from movin on from newspaper/magazine photography
    to some SERIOUS ART SEARCHING/ thinking / creating..
    Roger BALLEN in Burn!
    Now that’s a GREAT DAY…
    Roger BALLEN raises the bar once more , higher….
    Best work I’ve seen after the “Rio book editing” experience in NY!
    DAH and Roger BALLEN =

  • Way, way past my bedtime.

  • There is no question that this is very well done, and that it is fascinating.

    Despite that, I really dislike this, rather, I dislike what it represents. Pop culture really is looking more and more like a Mad Max movie: vulgar, sleazy, decayed, ugly.
    Hey, but what do I know. I’m just an old geezer from the peace, love, and tie-dyed t-shirt era.

  •  hahahah I laughed when they beat the daylights outta Dre’s headphones!
    this band has a great , unique sense of humor , mocking but not disrespecting the west coast RAP gangsta scene..they took it one step higher..for many folks that will think he is dissing Dr.Dre think twice..
    its unique sense of humor , not disrespect
    (hint for those not following this music genre)
    have a good day y’all

  • Ballen is definitely adding to the overall body of photographic (and film) work about ‘Africa’…something other than war, famine, disease, large animals and exotic tribes is a good thing in my book…

  • Doug, amen..
    Tired of bullets, syringes and minefields too..
    BALLEN is as FRESH as it gets..
    He is up in the class there with:
    dream team of film/stills/high art

  • No idea what I just saw… but, MAN it was awesome.

  • Follows that great tradition of music videos some of the most creative and innovative stuff produced and still being produced…………(creating great stories and imagery in a short time frame)………they took surrealism by the balls and never let go.

  • Imants , u said it all.. Perfect… nothing to add!

  • I say – send it to Rick Santorum!

    Amazing talent.

  • one more amazing video from DIE ANTWOORD below:

  • Very cool stuff. I love the whole concept and I can’t help liking the music. I’m going to have to show this to the two twenty year olds I work with, they surely won’t like the video but the music will go down very well.
    Those headphones! Tried on Dre’s headphone the other day and they fit like a glove. 150€ is the cheapest I ever seen for that make!

  • Wow. This is amazing. They’re playing here in Seattle Monday night…. have to think bout that….

  • Charles , They’re playing in Seattle ?
    Damn lucky u… I’m thinking of it too…
    Hmmm.. Gotta check if their coming down
    south … Checking their tour dates now…

  • A great idea, although I get the feeling Ballen and Co. are playing it safe here. The background is reminiscent of his work circa 2005-6. If the video was made then, great, but Ballen has grown a little bit since, so if this was made recently, I wonder why the sets didn’t keep pace with his work.

    Alfred Hitchcock made a brilliant move in getting Salvador Dali involved with “Spellbound”. Not only was there an integration of two art-forms, we actually dove into Dali’s world by diving into his painting-as-set. With this video, I don’t get the dialectical vibe so evident 67 years ago:

  • Been a fan of Die Antwoord for about a year, and I’ve got to say I love this video – it’s slightly disturbing, but in a good way. Definitely more interesting than my first exposure to them (but still love this song):
    “Enter the Ninja”

  • I think you’re FREAKY
    and you’re trying too HARD

    Must be good, though.

  • Wendy
    Just wanted to clarify that I was referring to R Ballen and not you in my previous post
    I just ‘borrowed’ your formatting

  • Once we move beyond the still images a greater world of communication envelops us………..or is it that too many still photographers are conservative thinkers and see their craft as a all encompassing means to an end?

    The inspiring aspect music video creators they are willing to embrace a wider scope of content and make it happen,……….

  • Burn just got a whole heck of lot more exciting. That is mind bending work right there. Thanks to all concerned.

  • IMANTS..

    your point is well taken…and yet i would never assume that still photographers are conservative thinkers…besides, Roger Ballen is a still photographer…a great one..and i will bet you for sure would not forsake his primary work…what i see here is a still photographer who took his craft over to another…were Ballen not a great still photographer, i doubt this video would be the same…

    without a doubt it is BECAUSE he is a still photographer this video is great…

  • I didn’t make an absolute blanket statement just stated that too many are are stuck within the confides of their craft in a world that feeds itself on multi media

  • It is almost as if there is a weird protectionism going on like a nationality thing I am Australian, I am Italian etc defend at all costs a bunker mentality. Photojournalist seem to have a real siege mentality, as their newsworthiness is diminished. Sure fair enough but time to move on with the demands of society……….

  • I don’t buy into the idea that moving images are somehow “beyond” still images, or for that matter that moving images with audio are “beyond” any earlier forms as well. I could see an argument that some ideas which are represented in the various art forms are beyond older ideas, better said “other” ideas, but the form itself? No.

    In general, I think that too often the art in a work like this is subsumed in the service of the music video, but this particular piece seems to work as a valid collaboration. Kind of like Tim Pope and the Cure or the videos David Bowie made with Sam Bayer.

  • ……….. many will disagree with me but so be it I don’t expect them


    please…insulting as a technique for making a point gets a bit wearying Imants….it is your only technique unfortunately….if some were to attack you the same way you attack others, you would be looking a bit foolish..

    most of us agree with the power of this video…that is why i featured on the front page of Burn…and i totally agree with your first two comments….


    “bunker mentality”? your own? and we were not even discussing “photojournalism” at all….we were discussing the power of stills…not in any way to take away the power of the collaboration of graphics, theater, and music collaborations….

    a bunch of poor still pictures do not a strong video make…you just cannot believe ever in the still image…a harsh critique on some videos would say that collaboration with other art forms does not mean you should use the other mediums as some sort of crutch…

    i guess my point is only that each part of the video is an art form unto itself… to throw out the baby with the bathwater is not something i think Ballen would agree with…

    bad videos and bad stills are just bad…liberation from a “bunker mentality” does not necessarily art make..from one bunker to another? a bunker is a bunker and sometimes yours seems the deepest of all…

    in any case, we both agree on the power of this Ballen piece…but can’t we celebrate this without taking some sort of twisted cynical cheap shot at other forms?

    i am looking forward to seeing you in a few weeks….and i do thank you for putting together the young photographer’s show for HeadOn…for this we are walking on the same turf…

    cheers, david

  • “…or is it that too many still photographers are conservative thinkers and see their craft as a all encompassing means to an end?”

    Where does this come from? Seems an utter non sequitur. It’s a cool video/piece of art. Most agree. What’s your problem?


    exactly….that assumption is the most conservative thought of all…choke choke….

  • John……..
    that’s gnarly…:) Joy Division always inspire…great video

  • Seen this video only once, have it stuck in my head, some images and sequences firmly planted there, can’t absolutely remember the music.. only visuals.. such a great piece of work..

  • John Gladdy,

    That was great! thank you for posting that video. I only knew of his “Hyena Men” project. This was a pleasant surprise.

  • Where are Beavis and Butt-Head when you need them?

  • “No idea what I just saw… but, MAN it was awesome.” -michael kircher

    My thoughts exactly. This has been disturbing the back reaches of my brain since I first saw it–really stuck in there.

  • Not insulting photography as a technique at all just pointing out the limitations in this day and age. By presenting work in a video form Ballen is now reaching a far greater and more diverse audience than he would with his still work.


    ok man, i gotta buy you a beer…..after sky;ing with you, publishing your work here on Burn, helping you with access to HeadOn and you making it happen, and often getting frustrated with your too cryptic text, at the end of the proverbial day i know damn well we are going to enjoy each other’s company….not a doubt…and i totally agree with your last statement.

    good on you…

  • Well certainly, but we can assume that video can open the door to still images to a greater audience. I think that stills and video compliment each other in an amazing way. This video is very strong and a great introduction to the work of Roger Ballen. I wouldn’t be surprise if watching this video opens the door to still photography to some people.

    P.S. hope I don’t offend people by saying this but Roger Ballen just f***** my mind with this one. Amazing work!


    this may be a very slight exaggeration but i swear i have not been alone in a room for weeks…rio started early november and except for some time with mom at Christmas, i been in rio one way or another…behind the camera or making prints and moving them around on the wall and working on a layout…a real mom and pop shop operation….so so so much fun…i just do it..i do not ask anybody for anything…i won’t make any money either , but i do not care..i will have done it..period.

    anyway, i am home alone….afternoon light coming through the loft window….mild sunny winter day new york….my loft in the afternoon is like a womb…you been here, you know what i mean…you can’t get out…right? anyway, i see a joint on the coffee table…i have too much to do to be smoking anything, but well you know yes you know it happened….that put me in the mood to peruse a few comments and low and behold i stumbled across your Hugo video……damn….i mean really….i don’t think i will want to see yours 10 times in a row like i felt with Ballen’s but it sure tripped me out under the circumstances….i am now seriously inspired to make one of these babies…no more traditional stuff for me…i know i am supposedly too old to be doing new shit, and it is dangerous cause people will accuse me of all kinds of things, but i really do not care about that either…i am on to some new might really hate my rio “book” coming…or you will love it….or you will love/hate it…anyway things going forward….for me, and for everybody here……glad you still with us gladdy…and thanks for making the afternoon even more intense than it already was….

    abrazos, david


    did you mean to write “fucked”?

  • Yeah…I’m going to have to watch it a few more times, there’s so much to see!

  • David,

    You really opened up there! not that you conceal anything…meaning you are always open and upfront but that was touching is what I’m trying to say.

    And speaking about videos:


  • David…

    If you do decide to go ahead with a music video may I help you out with composing the music? This is an idea I’ve been chewing in my mind for years…
    Something which would break a few jaws in awe as they heard and saw something extremely different…

  • DAVID:

    I can imagine you making a video with Go-Go bucket drummers in DC.

    I have a question or two for you:

    I seem to remember reading a comment from you in the last 2 -3 weeks about making a print from the Rio iPhone work. Are you using the iPhone with the standard camera app or some other photo app? Is there much Photoshop work (resolution changes etc) being done on the iPhone images before they are printed?

    I’m currently working on a commission and using the iPhone alongside my M6, and in some situations the iPhone is the better camera. Been playing around with Instagram too. I’m a late convert to this stuff! Have you experimented with printing a photograph with Instagram processing applied?


    Justin P

  • I wouldn’t be surprise if watching this video opens the door to still photography to some people.

    Micael , perfectly stated…i agree (and most def you’re not offending anyone :)
    big hug!

    Roger is a MAESTRO…no doubt!

  • ANTON! great to see and hear

  • David, with all these Mike types around, I’m not sure who you were directing that last comment at. In case it was me, no, I didn’t mean to write fucked, though I often do write fucked, especially here, I don’t recall having done it lately. Well, maybe I was a little fucked when I wrote my comments on the latest Juarez piece, but looking back on it there was nothing I would have written when I wasn’t fucked. No, although I usually mean to get fucked, at least in a hetero typa way, if I want to write fucked I simply do. I think that’s usually obvious to all.

    As for the music videos, I could show you a few. Personally, and there’s been a bit of discussion about it here before, the collaboration between Nine Inch Nails and a few videographers is the most successful I’ve seen. The alternate takes on “And all that could have been” are fantastic. It’s rare that the music and the video achieve eauality, but I think that collaboration nailed it. Would be happy to loan it to you. Aforementioned Cure + Tim Pope is worth checking out as well.

  • P.S. hope I don’t offend people by saying this but Roger Ballen just f***** my mind with this one. Amazing work!

    Mike (MW) ,sorry for intervening but i think that David was referring jokingly to Micael’s statement above…
    (previous page)
    big hug

  • …he (DAH) actually clearly (spelled his name correctly above- second comment in this page on top), wrote : MICAEL…

    big hug y’all

  • a civilian-mass audience

    I think he is FREEKY and I like him a lot…

    he has a chicken too…he is our EVIL BURNIAN

    WHAT NOT TO LOVE…!!! GO DIE….!!!

    back to my aisle

  • David..

    People accusing you of what? I quite frankly think you have done enough not only for yourself but for so many others too (just read the EFP post as a last example) that you have every right to do what you want, to take your art wherever you want and where you feel it is right for YOU!

    If people have expectations that get disattended, well, that cannot be YOUR problem.. you owe nothing to no-one.

    And yes, I know, for sure you do not need me to tell you this.. so there..

  • Latest example.. not last..

  • Yea she is a pretty special………. did stuff for Marilyn Manson and the poet himself Leonard Cohen I believe

  • Sorry about the inappropriate humor above. Just fucking around. Going somewhat stir crazy. Still immobile and projects coming on fast.

    Although I like movie videos as much as the next person, the photography is typically just a prop for the music. Even in the best collaborations, it’s still ultimately about the music. That’s why they call them music videos. From a photo-centric angle I can’t think of one music video that’s anywhere near as profound as at least thousands of single still images.

  • I find the music in John gladdy’s latest video well below the quality of the images

  • PAUL

    yes, great idea…i just have a few things to finish on my plate this year…RIO will remain a driving force for a few more weeks….then i move to Family, but there is space within that project to do some other things…sure, let’s collaborate…Burn is going into production anyway…and collaborating with a variety of artists and like minded producers..anyway, stay tuned…stay wired….for example, Rio might seem like it is only my thing, but just use a bit of imagination and you will see i think that it should help all of us…

    i think also we are going to shift things a bit….the emphasis has always been on the emerging photographers here…that works…yet, honestly, and all of my colleagues on Burn agree after 4 years of looking at hundreds of portfolios, the hard cold truth is there is a reason the icons are icons….there may be an icon who does not deserve to be one, and there may be an unknown who deserves to be known, BUT by and large the folks on top are the folks on top because their work is exceptional….almost is almost….

    this is not intended to be disparaging at all…but my main goal all along with Burn has been to make sure some of this audience does indeed rise to the occasion…

    so Burn is going to run more top stuff….not to neglect the emerging…absolutely not…there is nothing i like more than to bring somebody up…getting myself “up” is fine, getting someone else “up” is even better….so, we will focus even more on the emerging, but maybe in a different way, in a different place…

    i will use my time to best advantage…actually what i did more of in the beginning and really mentor a few…we are really really looking into Burn and the new york “kibbutz” as turning into a real school…..a non-profit biz structure…small…classes by the best in new york in my loft and adjoining spaces…also Burn as a producer…using this audience…connections with editors…

    right now we have an assembled cast of film makers, book productions types, field producers etc to take on any creative commission….can i do everything? hell no!! but i know people who can…or know the people who know the people who can….anyway, as you know, i cannot handle lethargy, so i will try to make some truly interesting things happen….be a part if you can…or rather, if you MUST

    cheers, david


    great talk!! we are very proud of you!!


    how in the world do you know the GOGO bucket drummers of D.C. ?

    if there is plenty of light, the iPhone can be amazing….i think everyone knows the low light often kills most iPhone pictures…

    right now i have big prints on my walls..RIO in progress…some w Leica , some w Nikon D700 , some w GF1 and some with iPhone…16 x20 seems fine for the iPhone but not much larger…the GF1 is the most impressive for what it is, an inexpensive point and shoot…60 x40 inch prints from the GF1 look amazing….both the Leica and the Nikon of course are the best in all lighting conditions, but i would defy anyone to choose on my wall right now in anything less than 16×20 which camera belongs to which picture…

    for RIO the iPhone was terrific…fit in with what i was doing…but that is project specific…i doubt i would use it on my Family project…but maybe maybe…

    when all the dust settles, i think for sure my Mamiya VII with b&w film will beat em all….make big prints and large film still rises….

  • IMANTS. Absolutely. It was her Manson videos that first got me interested in her work. Been a big fan for years now.

  • Paul…

    Didn’t watch the video until you said that about the music. And it’s weird because I found the opposite to be true for me.

  • So Paul (or John or anybody), who did the photography for that Amon Tobin music video? I can’t find any credits. And it looks art directed. Guess we could question whether art directed stuff is equal to the loner visions of still photographers of old… Don’t see why not, but it’s a different thing and I am personally not that into it.


    hmmmm, i will take Ballen over Floria from what i see here……lotsa graphics w Floria…clever…but?? maybe as Paul says, it is just that the music here is not as good as the visuals…seems to me a music video needs to grab you right off…Floria doesn’t do it for me personally but i am sure you know way more about this genre than do i…….Ballen has the PEOPLE who are really interesting right off…..Floria doesn’t have the people/subject that get me in the gut….but i will do my homework and go look at her other work…

    later…ahhh, yes The Runaways and The Cure and Bowie videos…yes, amazing work!! just the one here doesn’t move me, but other work absolutely does..knew some of her work, but not the name right off…thanks

    BUT , now the big one…are music videos dead? MTV surely not emphasizing…they do all reality shows….i mean, where can we see music videos? not mainstream tv anymore…is this the place? your thoughts?

  • and now for some comedy relief….high end production value here and funny as can be!

  • Oh! and I just remember this classic!

  • Where to see music videos? YouTube seems to have cornered that market. If market is the right word.

  • This is one of the better at using still photography imo.


  • Meant to say photography, or maybe documentary photography. More video than still actually. Stands on its own with truly great song and performance.

  • speaking of freeeeeky:
    Here is the “King of the Volcano”

    (smile all)

  • mw, that Cash video is indeed beautiful and beautifully put together.

    Die Antwoord’s freakier than thou approach just leaves me feeling like I’ve been beaten over the head..gag me with a dead rat. Pop culture has relied on the gross me out factor instead of talent for impact for years. Kiss, Manson, Alice Cooper etc, it seems that to impress the masses, performers have got to keep upping the ante.
    Pop culture just keeps getting more violent and gross. Flipping channels on TV last night I paused to watch two guys beating each others brains in. Blood all over each other and the ring, the crowd screaming for more. Then another reality channel with guys shooting machine guns and setting off grenades, just for kicks.

    There is no doubt that Die Antvood’s video gets a strong reaction, the comments haven’t been this lively for ages. It is clearly very well put together. But beyond the gross me out, in your face factor, what is it that makes this video so appealing, or ground-breaking?

  • Hey Gordon. I know you addressed this to the other M, but…

    Like you, I’m not a fan of the music, so I appreciate where you’re coming from. However, the video, I find, is just wonderful. It’s beautifully surreal–like his photographs. It held my attention the entire time. I look for (and find!) new things each time I watch it. I would suspect that if Ballen gave his treatment to any musical group you happen to enjoy, you’d be less bothered. The fact that you liked the Cash video I think attests to this.

    An interesting experiment might be to try and watch it with the sound off. Look at it as a visual trip only. I don’t know.

    In any case, it may just not be your thing… which of course is cool, too! ;^}

  • Re; music videos… I’ve always thought that Natalie Merchant’s “Ophelia” was one of the most well thought out “story telling” videos…


    Well, I’ve been to DC at least 3 times, but not recently. In the summer of 1999 I worked for the Smithsonian Folklife Centre / Folkways Records. I was managing the sound recording crews during the folklife festival on the Mall amongst other things. Came across Go Go then. A very interesting subculture.

    Yeah, from looking at the iPhone photos on screen I was thinking 20 x 16 would be max size. I agree that it is not suitable for all projects perhaps, but depends on the intended outcome doesn’t it? My intention was to use it to just provide Instgram updates from the field during this commission and that is what I am doing. But it is an impressive little camera, even for landscapes. Appears to have no shutter lag at all once it is focused. But you know all that already.

    I’m done with big prints, for a while at least. I’ve printed up to 68 x 50 from 35mm Provia and they are very impressive and have great impact in an exhibition but framing those up, especially when using non-reflective uv filtered glass is a major expense. Plus framed prints that size are not easy to move around and install without assistance.

    Decided to go 20 x 16 max for a while, even thinking smaller on a couple of projects, 10 x 8 where the frame becomes part of the presentation. Really wanting to move beyond how people expect photographs to look in a show. But I have never wanted to go just mounted with no frame. I think that is too contemporary looking for my work.

    You never did provide info about the printing of that limited edition Rio mag. Did you use Magcloud?


    Justin P

  • One thing I’ve got against all these videos is how depressing they all are. There’s not the slightest hint of happiness throughout them. Surely there’s a brighter side to life which someone could create a video with?

  • GORDON. MICHAEL K., etc–

    (Where is Jim Powers when we need him most?)

    As I said earlier, Die Antwoord and most of Roger Ballen is way, way past my bedtime.

    Nevertheless, in the spirit of open-mindedness and trying to understand what the ‘younger folks’ like these days, I watched the video twice, and I even watched all the other video examples embedded here by various commentators. I even tried Michael K’s suggestion of watching “Freeky” without the sound, though the truth is I found it far less appealing or even technically impressive that way… the sound is clearly an integral and indispensable part of what is being done.

    Freak shows have always been popular in most cultures, and the desire or need to shock seems to come with the rebelliousness of most generations against their parents. There’s along history of the grotesque in art going back at least to Hieronymous Bosch, picked up in the 19th century by Daumier in France, Kuniyoshi in Japan, and then Audrey Beardsley in Britain, etc,. and of course Luis Bunuel and Salvador Dali and many other Surrealists in the 20th century. From the 60s I could point to the Living Theater, Butoh in Japan, and Andy Warhol’s Factory…

    I guess the question that Gordon seems to be suggesting, and I am too, is… are we in new territory these days with a very widespread attraction to the shocking, the grotesque, the revolting, the offensive, the ugly, among young people and the pop culture artists who seem to speak to them and for them? Or is this just another turn of the same wheel that produced the shock art of previous times? Has our youth culture gone over completely to a dark side, where the concentration-camp-victim ‘look’ is glorified and the language, mores, and style come mainly from prison and gangsta culture? Has ‘primitive cool’ triumphed and conquered the mainstream? Is alienation so deeply entrenched?

    Now, I would never tell anybody what they should like and what they shouldn’t when it comes to music or visual imagery or the two together (as long as you don’t force me to listen to it or watch it). But there are culture wars going on all the time. Having been identified strongly on the left-wing, avant-garde, hedonistic fringe of the culture wars of the 60s and 70s, I find it ironic that I now seem to be very much on the ‘other side’ in at least some of the culture wars going on now. (I suspect Gordon may feel the same way). So, OK, I am a clueless non-urban old white dude. I confess I lost sympathy and understanding all the way back with disco and techno music, tattoos, and body piercing. Nothing that has arisen since in pop culture has altered my conviction that civilization has been taken over by brutal barbarians… the people who were playground bullies in my high school… who are creating a world that I will be all too happy to check out of when my time comes, which it will before long.

    So, here’s my question… (and I know all too well how much derision, dismissal, and contempt I will be eliciting from most Burnian hipsters by asking it)… with five thousand years of civilization and literacy behind us, with the vast information resources and incredible technical control over all forms of media now available to so many, with our myriad libraries and museums and universities and theaters, is this really the culture we want to create? Do you really enjoy and feel inspired by watching spastic robot-dancing in filthy bathrooms?

  • “…spastic robot-dancing in filthy bathrooms?”

    That cracked me right the hell up! Sounds like they now have the name for their next album! ;^}

  • I find it stimulating without the need to intellectualize it.

  • This is another video/dvd I love. I think it is the spontaneity, simplicity that makes it work. I also love the way the ambient sounds become part of the performance. The entire product is at the complete other end of the spectrum to Roger’s performance. I suppose you either meticulously manage a video (or any art project); or just wing it; everything else in-between ends up a bit of nothing-ness?

  • But to your larger point, Sidney. I really don’t think it’s as bad as you seem to suggest. From the day Elvis shook his hips on the Sullivan show America has been fearing the coming downfall of civilization. And, like Christ, it’s still coming, never actually arriving. I don’t know if we create culture or if it’s the other way round, but despite Die Antwood, despite Elvis Presley and Little Richard and Marilyn Manson… someone like Rick Santorum can apparently still become President.

    This is ebb and flow stuff. Pendulum swinging. There are still wonderful works of art in all mediums being created and there are ignoramuses with fascist tendencies in the halls of power negatively affecting the daily lives of millions. There are also their counterparts, what I would call the heroes.

    Always been this way. I’m not gonna sweat it. I would say this is “just another turn of the same wheel.”

  • Sidney if you keep on looking at the cladding you will never see what is inside ……….despite that if the bathroom wasn’t left dirty by the previous users it would be clean…………

  • By the way what is a Burnian hipster?……..another new classification for justification!!!!!!!!!/

  • Michael K,

    I hope you’re right… though in some ways I find Rick Santorum just as alarming and discouraging.

  • As mw stated You Tube is a fantastic source though it does take a bit of trolling ….but all these unexpected videos crop up some great, some lousy etc but a great way to spend an hour or two ………cheaper and not as one dimensional as a movie.

    Other than that links just as you see here ……. like minded interest groups on the net ……. we still have 6 hours every Friday and Saturday Night and mix it with short films/ animations from a sister channel, all good
    Facebook links …….generally people love to share stuff

  • Sidney. I hear you..but old folks have been saying the same since greek times at least…and thats what happened…..You got old. I think you need to keep in mind that directors such as floria, whose parents were very cultured opera singers by the way, are working very creatively in a theatrical style. They are making a product for a market. And in Floria’s case really pushing boundaries and breaking new ground, both technically and artistically. Do you really think marilyn Manson goes home at night with a prosthetic eye and wearing cast offs from A Clockwork Orange?, And Alice cooper shows up at the golf club on thursdays with a fucking python round his neck??…ITS SHOWBIZ! THEATRE! They are created entities…Just like Borat.

    But I am totally with you on the “Spastic robot dancing in the bathroom” thing….but check out the resume of the band….been reincarnated more times than buddha…its a showbiz thing…they are character actors like all the rest…they get a hit and the character stays….Again, just like Borat.
    And that video, while undeniably arresting visually, is just an animated ballen freak show….but with actors instead of real freaks.

  • Sidney Gordon you guys seem to be putting flowers in the same vase to make things look pretty without noticing how dirty you are making the water.

  • Michael:

    “someone like Rick Santorum can apparently still become President.”

    I don’t believe it. Someone like Santorum can run for president and perhaps win the Republican nomination, but I really don’t believe he can become President. Of course, George W became President, but in some ways Santorum makes him seem half sane.


    “i swear i have not been alone in a room for weeks”

    Wow! I swear that for the same number of weeks and more, I have been spending 90 percent of my time alone in a room. Well, not quite. There is always at least one cat with me and often two. This will change Sunday, after I land in Arizona and then from there to India. For five weeks, I will almost never be alone in a room. It has been on my agenda to send you a Mormon/Family package and a Kivgiq/Arctic package before I leave, but I am so hard pressed against the wall I don’t know how I can find the time. I think I will just throw a bunch of stuff into my laptop and try to find the time in Arizona, send it from there.

    It’s not for submission, but just to help me get these projects moving forward. Santorum aside, I hope Mitt Romney wins the Republican nomination – just to whip up more interest in things Mormon to help get this book published and make people want to read and look at it. Then Romney can get whupped in the general.

    I have no more time to write anything here until maybe from Arizona – but of course, I will find the time to make an encouraging comment to whatever photographer gets a new story posted on burn.

  • Sidney, you’re not alone in feeling the way you do, but like Michael I too think that this is nothing new and just another turn… also, I wouldn’t put those who are attracted to this (or any other dark or freaky) kind of work/lifestyle in the same sentence with moronic zealots like Santorum… freakiness after all requires a kind of open-mindedness, something that people like Santorum lack to the extreme…

  • Sidney,

    I hope you don’t think I was in any way speaking positively about Santorum!

  • My point was that the people who used to scream about Elvis are the same who’d vote for the frothy mixture! ;^}

  • Sidney
    Good post,I agree with all you’ve said. I was worried I was the only one.

  • Thomas Alan “Tom” Waits (born December 7, 1949) is an American singer-songwriter, composer, and actor. Waits has a distinctive voice, described by critic Daniel Durchholz as:

    ” sounding “like it was soaked in a vat of bourbon, left hanging in the smokehouse for a few months, and then taken outside and run over with a car “

  • ” with five thousand years of civilization and literacy behind us, with the vast information resources and incredible technical control over all forms of media now available to so many, with our myriad libraries and museums and universities and theaters, is this really the culture we want to create? Do you really enjoy and feel inspired by watching spastic robot-dancing in filthy bathrooms?”

    Yes, for many, it seems so.

  • is this really the culture we want to create?

    Who is this “we” you speak of kemosabe?

    Sorry, couldn’t resist.

    But do “we” really want to live in a world in which a healthy portion of the young fail to rebel?

  • mw
    Maybe that’s my problem, when I was young, I was never rebellious, and always considered those who were to be self-indulgent and childish. Adolescence, and the associated dis-connect from family to peer group is a pretty recent phenomenon, a kind of a Peter Pan syndrome. Childish people in adult bodies. This was never true historically, and still does not occur in all cultures.

    OK, it’s all about rebellion, and show biz. But is it art?

  • geeez Gordon you sure are sounding a bit pompous there ……maybe just maybe as a child your poop didn’t stink after all you and Barbie must have come out of the same mold.

  • “when I was young, I was never rebellious, and always considered those who were to be self-indulgent and childish.”… thats the saddest thing I’ve read in ages.

  • Back home.. watched the videos with my morning coffee.. back to Ballen’s over and over.. love it.. freaks? Are we not all freaks? I know I am, much more on the inside than on the outside, which is much more frightening actually..

  • @ ANTON:
    Nice talk last week in your hometown with the TEDx.
    Time was like a fuse, short and burning fast!

    “The life is your preparation” great phrase!

    Hope to see that awesome on going projet in the near future.


  • I can’t even remember who, but someone once brought up the late Michio Hoshino to me here. I wasn’t going to post another link to the 1988 great gray whale rescue series that I am currently posting, or anything else until I shed my current burdens but the post I just put up begins with a picture of Michio, so I will link for those who knew or just admired him. The text beneath the picture also describes how, when the opportunity for wealth and frame presented itself to me in living color, I threw it away:

    Off topic, but this seems to be the all purpose thread now.

  • Wow, lots of things to say about all that’s been discussed here (photogs doing video, being or not being conservative if you don’t, rebellious nature of youth) but the few times I’ve tried I’ve just walked away before pressing submit. Been one of those weeks…..

    JOHN G:

    Well according to Die Antwoord Marilyn Manson lives just as he performs. Ballen promo photo here too.


    I just don’t see anything wrong with living your life the way you want to live it. Die Antwoord are not really my cup of tea (I actually find them to be more than a bit juvenile for my tastes) but I’m glad people are making/doing this. It’s the mortgage fund gamblers of the world that are the truly evil ones, the playground bullies. Don’t let the tattoos (or suits) fool you as to who is truly who.



  • . It’s the mortgage fund gamblers of the world that are the truly evil ones,
    that hit the spot..thank u Charles:)

  • “Adolescence, and the associated dis-connect from family to peer group is a pretty recent phenomenon, a kind of a Peter Pan syndrome.”

    Recent? I think Ovid might disagree. ;^}

  • John Gladdy

    Alas, too true.
    I am the sad victim of a happy childhood and adolescence. My selfish single parent mom never gave me an opportunity to resent her for anything, or any reason to rebel. Tragically, I cannot even recall a single occasion where my mom even raised her voice at me. If that was not bad enough, I was always shown love and respect and trust.
    The grim result is what you see before you today: a person who actually loves his life, loves his mom and talks to her every day, and, who still attaches meaning to archaic words and concepts like vulgarity.

    I’m looking for a support group:)

  • Michael K

    Google “extended adolescence”

    A few years ago I attended an all day lecture on the subject. There has been a huge shift within western culture.

  • Gordon, just guessing, but I doubt anyone was bothered by your happy existence, just that you considered those who were rebellious, presumably unhappy, to be self-indulgent and childish. I think you would agree that it’s not cool to look down on unhappy people. I was a rebellious youth who became a for the most part happy adult, so I can see both sides. Adult me doesn’t much like the music or the art but I think young me would have liked it. I certainly liked similar things (see Skinny Puppy). From a critical standpoint, I think the work is very well realized and I don’t see anything morally wrong with it, so it doesn’t really matter much to me if today’s incarnation of me personally likes it or not. More power to those who do, I say.

  • With respect, Gordon…

    I have little use for conservative, alarmist, religious pop-psychology.

    My point is that there is nothing new here. The ancients called it puer aeternus. This behavior, this phenomenon, has been identified, written about and discussed for centuries. And it is not anchored to just “western” culture. Ask any anthropologist.

  • Charles. That doesnt seem to be what they are saying at all. They mention nothing about dress except that they do not know if he had his lens in, and that they went to his house…got drunk.. and hung out in the studio……..Sounds like a normal day for just about anyone in music to me.

    Gordon..your middle names not Oedipus by any chance is it?

  • PANOS,

    OMG! That is one of the funniest videos I’ve seen in a long time! Brilliant!

    JOHN G.

    I think what I was getting at is the Marilyn M. doesn’t go home to a sparkling white Pottery Barn home after he does his thing. It sounds like he honestly lives the trip he’s on (black walls, absinthe bar, etc) and most of the musicians I’ve met that’s true. It’s in their blood. And still, what they do is an act, a piece of entertainment, and I’m pretty sure they know that (at least the smart ones do). They’re just normal people (with a twist). The scary thing is the fans that believe it’s more than that. The pressure must be enormous, esp as one gets older and feeling the need to change or step out. Look at poor Whitney Houston. Anyway, my brain isn’t functioning well this week and this isn’t coming out quite as I’d like.

    Stay true,


  • From a Postcards from America Facebook posting today:

    “Magnum photographers Jim Goldberg and Alessandra Sanguinetti are taking the Postcards RV over the Rockies between March 30 and April 15. They’re looking for someone to come with them. You must:
    1) Have experience with, and feel comfortable, driving an RV.
    2) Have experience working with photography equipment and files.
    3) Be available for an interview in San Francisco before March 10th.
    4) Be available for the actual trip, starting in San Francisco.

    If you’re interested, send a short letter-of-interest containing your qualifications to, together with any questions. We’ll get back to you as soon as we can.”

  • John
    People who love their moms all have an Oedipus complex?

    I’m sorry if I came across as looking down on those the rebellious. As a teen, I could never relate, and had little patience for them.

  • Michael K

    “In the 19th century, the American world consisted of children and adults. Most Americans tried their best to allow their children to enjoy their youth while they were slowly prepared for the trials and tribulations of adulthood. Although child labor practices still existed, more and more states were passing restrictions against such exploitation. The average number of years spent in school for young Americans was also on the rise. Parents were waiting longer to goad their youngsters into marriage rather than pairing them off at the tender age of sixteen or seventeen. In short, it soon became apparent that a new stage of life — the TEENAGE phase — was becoming a reality in America. American adolescents were displaying traits unknown among children and adults. Although the word teenager did not come into use until decades later, the teenage mindset dawned in the 1920s.”

    From U.S.

  • Gordon…

    I think it’s fine you love your mum. I personally can’t stand my mother’s guts and I’m sure that is a much more serious problem than any Oedipus complex…. :)

  • Maybe this:

    Afterword from Touch Me I’m Sick:

    Rock and roll reaches deep down inside you and re-arranges things subconciously. It’s been my dysfunctional therapist all these years. I absolutely love it, even crave it. I’m sometimes scared (thrillingly so) of it – of the juvenile, yet strangely profound power it’s had over me. It has soundtracked my life, possibly a conspirator in my ending up in some complex and messy places – and getting back out again. My friend Steve and I call it “volume cleansing”. And It’s not just rock an roll that moves me that way – it’s passionate, gut rippling, heart fluttering music of any kind. I always start madly dancing, air guitaring, buffeting that near nervous breadown – in my living room, in the darkroom, at the show. I am the DJ. I am what I play.

    I’m also the photographer. And I find it hard to talk about what this all means. I never purport having set out to photograph the history of this thing. That’s not my style. I didn’t need to. I was there. I lived it. As it is, being human, there were a great deal of other influences shaping my life at the same time. This is what passed in front of my lens, a reflection of how my brain communicated with eye and finger, inside a rock and roll club. I always had an higher agenda with photography; fine art aspirations. For me, it’s most important the photographs stand on their own as purely great photographs, in the traditional sense of what that means. Try temporarily divorcing the images from our cult of celebrity and that insistent need to categorize. Relish in the detail. Shoes. Duct tape. Hands. Big Muffs. Blurs. Budweiser cans. Torn knees. Ballet. The elements fill the frame – lines converging, textures and patterns re-emerging, negative spaces balancing, scenarios opening; everything perfect – but then not quite.

    An artist can’t ask for more than having people feel something, anything, (especially if it’s good) about their work. I sometimes question certain people’s relationship to this subject matter. I question my own part in it as well. I’d like to think that I championed the story of a supercharged lifestyle of expression, a familial community made up of “stray dogs from every village” who all had the same achy need for something to do (preferably loud and diverting). This story, like any, is deserving of profoundity, albeit I prefer mine steeped in a dose of heavy irreverence. A slight return of innocence. But I can’t, and won’t, forget that it was also a time fraught with selfish abandon, substance abuse, suicide, failed ambitions or, conversely, hyper-realised paths to stardom and ultimate depression. All those things touched my career, and my personal life, in some way, too close to the skin.

    What kept me coming back for more was the fun – the high, divine release that comes from jumping up and down madly for an hour courtesy of your pals, roommates, heroes, beer – whatever – on voice, guitar, drums, bass. It’s about that afterwards sound of your ears ringing and the feel of sweat hitting the cold night air as you reel out of the club. It felt like you were really alive, if only just for a moment. It felt like you were a part of something. I knew that it would end someday and I would need to move on. I had a great time. This is what I did. And I really love these photographs.

    Charles Peterson, March 2003

  • Charles Peterson…

    Brilliant words, highly inspiring and so very true!

  • Okay, request is out and looks most likely to shoot Die Antwoord Monday night. Should be fun!

  • That is a great afterword Charles!


    Thanks for that link and post… such a fascinating story. I was the one who brought up Michio Hoshino some time back… he was a hero to many people I knew in Japan, and something of a shy celebrity in the Japanese mass media. I owned and gave away as presents several of his books, and his death send shock ripples through the nature and outdoor worlds in Japan.

  • Okay, request is out and looks most likely to shoot Die Antwoord

    Charles, I understand some people don’t like them, but isn’t shooting them a bit of an overreaction?

    Sorry, that joke’s not gonna work here. Probably not anywhere.

    Anyway, love your afterword. I’ve felt many of those feelings you describe. It’s great the extent to which you’ve captured all that in your photographs. I only say “the extent” because of your line about “that afterward sound of your ears ringing,.” I’d never verbalized that feeling but physically remember it now that I think back. More importantly though, I think you achieved your agenda. I remembe4 seeing one of your photographs from a distance in the Brooklyn Museum. I didn’t know it was yours. It just caught my attention. Great composition from a distance, then emotional connection from up close. Art at its finest.

  • Bravo Charles!
    can’t wait to see………..

  • Gordon… So? Make your point. Longing for the days when we could legally force 12 year olds to work in the mills? The “teenage years”? What of it? A social construct that means nothing. Again… so what?

  • Wait a minute, I think I’m finally getting it. No child labor laws, no Die Antwoord! Brilliant! Ah.. don’t we all long for the “good old days!”

  • And in full disclosure here is the first music video I directed, circa 1990(1?). $2200 budget Start to finish, two bottles of vodka, a case of beer, a wind up 16mm Bolex with a turret lens (I mostly used the wide of course) and a hell of a lot of fun. Played on MTV’s 120 minutes a few weeks later. Off line was on a two machine Super VHS setup and the online master at the local Christian TV station (they had the cheapest edit suite time). A classic.

  • And a stab at psychedelia all shot on super 8. I think a $1200 budget but that was a loss. Edited on a super vhs setup again. Painstaking…..


    I hope you can watch this all the way through as its specially for you.


    That Love Battery video gave me goosebumps… personally conjured up some feelings of being an unsure 18-year-old again (my age at that time). Very nice – thank you for posting that.

  • John Gladdy

    Many thanks for the link. I’ve not made my way through the whole thing yet, probably won’t have a block of time ’till next week, but have watched about 20 min. Interesting documentary. I’ll let you know my impressions when I finish it.

  • Charles!!!
    Your videos really affected my life and point of views back then…
    Thanks again:)

  • Absolutely great link Gladdy!!!
    Watched it twice and forwarded to many friends in Greece …
    They need to redirect their anger into new ideas to help the community..
    The young generation that needs a communa so to speak


    Many thanks for posting that video about the Crass, a bit of British social history about which I knew nothing (was living in a language and information fog in the Far East through most of that era).

    There’s a lot in their analysis and their prescriptions that a younger me can relate to… ironically though, not their music!

    But I think many of the messages of the film are worthwhile sharing with a wide audience. Thanks.

  • Shot the band last night here in Seattle, sold out show. They were good, very high energy. If I was 16 and pressed up against the barricade I would probably say it was a great show, though, thankfully, I’m no longer 16 (or think like one). Anyway, the video is much better than the band in my estimation (and this is their best song). I still can’t figure out if it’s all a joke (take the money and run) or if they truly take themselves seriously. I prefer the former… kinda sad (unless you are 16) if it’s truly the latter…

    Anyway, I’ll link up to a few pics once I get them ready….

  • John G
    Finally made it all the way through the Crass video. “do they owe us a living?..of course they fucking do”.
    “where are all the angry young men?” (and women I presume)

    Fascinating stuff. The whole Dial House scene leaves me wondering where Rimbaud and Vaucher get their money from. Both Rimbaud and “Steve Ignorant” clearly deplore actual work. Even the word “livlihood” makes Rimbaud sneer.

    I really don’t buy their message, or their music.

  • Charles..
    cant wait…!!!
    thanks for posting and following up!

  • Here’s the link to Die Antwoord pics:

    Note it’s a much larger edit than I would normally do of one show but it’s also for running by the band.

  • Oh, and it’s the last shot that goes in the next book.

  • sweeeeeeeeeeetttttttttt!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Charles thats hot!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • wow, some great stuff there Charles, I love #28. Looks like you had great access.

    My 22yr old stepson didn’t like your review of the show however, wishes he had been there. They will play Vancouver soon.


    Terrific concert photos… far more impressive to me than either Roger Ballen or Die Antwoord’s music.

  • Sidney..

    Two so completely different things.. how to compare one to the other.. unless I stop Ballen’s video and click my way through like it was a slideshow with stills.. and even then, cannot compare.. but am most impressed with Ballen’s stills.. that is not to say Charles has not great concert pictures in there.. it’s just different to me..

  • damn charles!!!!
    you are SOOOOO good!!
    Great stuff…
    thanks for sharing…


    great access, great work!!


    not comparable, i am sure Charles would agree

  • Thanks All. Yes, access. I won’t shoot a show any more unless I get to shoot the whole thing (for most of the photographers it’s usually the first three songs, at this show too). You do have to know how to behave when you are the only photog down in front. Try and be invisible yet right where the action is as well.

    And,yes, the video, and live stills two entirely different things. No way could I ever do what Ballen does, and I kinda doubt he’d come away from a live show with the same goods as me. And of course without the music there’d be neither.



  • Charles, nice work man!

    Gordon, please don’t confuse “actual work” with work for money… there are plenty of people who do amazing amounts of work without making a living out of it… also, if you re-watch the video you’ll see that at some point they were presented with the opportunity to monetize their work, but for their own reasons refused to do so…

  • Thodoris
    Not confused at all, I do lots of both kinds of work.

    I suspect that they felt that they had to refused the money because it would have been hypocritical given their screaming anti-establishment anarchy stance. And also because Rimbaud clearly has independent means, and Steve was young, and idealistic. they were probably foolish to refuse the money, given that it would have either financed projects that they cared about, or made them wealthy like many of the sixties icons who railed against the establishment (Dylan, Guthrie, Baez etc.) Steve complains now about not getting any money from pirate t-shirt sales.

    Where have all the angry young men gone asks Rimbaud. They grew up and left him behind in his quasi-utopian Dial House Never Never Land. If you want to see what real anarchy looks like, try living somewhere like Somalia.

    Sorry to sound so cynical.

  • Thodoris

    I love your idea for using your smartphone’s flashlight app as supplemental lighting in low light!

  • Hey Gordon, I don’t disagree with any of the points you make in the first paragraph… however, I actually admire Rimbaud trying to practice his ideology…

    To be clear, even though I find the message of their music appealing I’ve never been a big fun of punk music… so, I’m not defending Crass in particular… my reaction above was to your mention of “actual work”… it kind of sounded like “the man’s” point of view and not that of someone with an open mind (and a hippie background) to alternative lifestyles…

    And yeah, the smartphone’s flashlight was a duh moment… thanks for looking :)

  • I hate to toot my own horn too loudly without reviewing and joining in the larger discussion, but right now I am traveling on my wife’s reservation, visiting family, at the same time as I am working to finish up my whale rescue series. I just made a post about how I got onto the Soviet icebreakers in defiance of the authority of the man President Reagan had give all authority to.

    I think you might enjoy reading how that happened. I have three posts left to make in this series. For those not following, I invite to come along. In these remaining posts, you will see things you have never saw before and will not see even the hint of in the movie – Big Miracle – which, none-the-less, is a fun movie to watch but not to take seriously.

    Today’s post:

    David – we could try that Skype sometime in the next couple of days. Time is very hard for me right now, but it won’t get any easier for the next month and I don’t want to miss that Skype conversation with you.

  • The video is very slick, a lot of work has obviously gone into it.
    I wouldn’t want to meet any of them down a dark alley.
    Looks like a vision of hell.
    Not so scary with no sound.

    Charles, great photos!


  • Roger Ballen, his work and this video is featured in the latest issue of Britsh Journal of Photography.
    Since the access to the magazine from Germany is very difficult, I got the iPad version of the magazine.
    A picture out of the video even made it to the title page.

  • When the photographer Roger Ballen’s video for “I Fink U Freeky,” by Die Antwoord, came out earlier this month, I watched it over and over again, amazed by how it brought his still images to life while also conveying the personality of the band. It got me thinking about other video collaborations between photographers and musicians, some of them surprising, others made by photographers who are prolific in the form. Here’s a selection of ten, all made by directors with large bodies of photographic work, along with comments from most of the artists.

    Read more

  • “Ballen told me that he’s known the band members Ninja and Yo-Landi for years, and that he’s long wanted to make a video for them. “Unfortunately, they were living in Cape Town and I in Johannesburg, and as a result the logistics never seemed to have worked out,” he said. On New Year’s Eve, though, he took a photograph of Die Antwoord for the New York Times Magazine, and they decided to finally make it happen. Two weeks later, the video for “I Fink U Freeky” was in the can. “We started with my photographs for ideas and then mimicked them in the sets,” Ballen told me. “Most of the sets started with almost a ‘Roger Ballen still life’ and then expanded on the particular theme cinematically. In many aspects, a great work of cinema contains an abundance of powerful still images.”

    Read more

  • Panos; Die Antwoord played here in NZ about 2-weeks ago….

  • Don’t know it this has been posted.. I Fink U Freeky: Behind the Scenes:

  • Just in case anybody is interested, Roger Ballen’s book will be out soonest:

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