I have seen this photograph in Paris Photo fair as part of London-based Michael Hoppen Gallery’s exhibition. The photograph really stood out as it was placed next to the Chloe Sells‘ uber-vibrant mixed media prints. The highly contrasting and rough feeling black and white print stood tall amongst the colourful haze of the gallery.
The scene consists of two rough feet resting on top of soft furnishings. The feet are touching along the heels and parted along the toes to allow a hand and the head of a small puppy through.
The head of the puppy is so small that it is not immediately recognisable. The composition is formed to resemble childbirth and there is little contrast of tone between the hand and the head. The detail that really stands out for me is the contrast of the dog’s head to the feet and hand. The newborn is smooth, has closed eyes and symbolises; innocence, the untainted and naivety. The feet and hand that surround it resemble a human pelvis, a broken, aged and infertile pelvis.
Roger Ballen is an American photographer that lived in South Africa since the 70’s. He is well known for his work in the fringes of the society. He was both celebrated and criticized for photographing the post-apartheid whites that were left in poverty. He is also well recognised for the first music video he directed- “I fink u freaky” by the Die Antwoord, which also featured heavy contrasting black and white scenes.