exhibition : Current

NO JOKE
Roger Ballen + Asger Carlsen

2017.5.26(FRI)-8.17(THU)

Concept

An unparalleled exploration into the subconscious: a groundbreaking collaboration
between two world-renowned artists at Diesel Art Gallery

Diesel Art Gallery is pleased to announce NO JOKE, a joint exhibition by Roger Ballen and Asger Carlsen opening Friday May 26 and running through Thursday August 17, 2017.

This exhibition features a series of innovative collaborative pieces born from a game of artistic ping pong across oceans and time zones by Roger Ballen, a South Africa-based artist counted among the most important photographers of the 21st century, and Asger Carlsen, a photographer residing in New York whose unprecedented digitally processed photo collages featuring bodily sculptures have attracted international acclaim.

At the core of both artists’ work is a fascination with the subconscious and an unrivalled exploration of this complex realm of archetypal outsiders and the preternatural. With NO JOKE, they have joined forces to delve even further into the connection between the mind and body. Their perspective is composed of a combination of displacement1, having no sense of belonging, and an innate feeling of estrangement. It is also founded on an insatiable desire to craft and share their artistic vision through photographic creations.

Roger Ballen was born in New York in 1950 and currently resides in Johannesburg. Asger Carlsen was born in Frederiksberg, near Copenhagen, in 1973 and is now based in New York. Though separated by great distances, these two self-proclaimed outsiders teamed up in 2013 when they began frequently exchanging image files based on a single concept via e-mail and Skype. This image exchange continued for several years, with the result being a series of chimerical collages featuring countless layers of advanced digital processing, analog cut-and-paste work, and even drawing.

The motifs found in this project include things such as photographic images manipulated like sculptures, pictures with the two artists’ faces switched, body parts placed in locations they weren’t meant to be, mysteriously occupied spaces, hand-drawn masks or graffiti that have been cut out and patched together, along with everything from spiders and other animals to angels and devils. Each of these things were chosen from the duo’s personal collection of images and bears the look of something assembled in an imaginary shared studio space, or perhaps a dream machine unraveling a fantastic tale.

Though the collaboration bears a certain resemblance to the Surrealists’ exquisite corpse2, there is a greater sense of purpose behind the composition of each image. The artists’ talents have soared even further through the collaborative process and the resulting work exudes a wealth of creativity, indicating the duo’s success in creating a foundation upon which they could nurture something that is truly original. The fruits of their labor are just as we expected: truly bizarre images that impart feelings of unease.

As the artists expressed it in a recent interview with Office Magazine, “If you can define an idea with words then you can get rid of it. You can package it and put it in a supermarket. But if the art is indefinable it is more powerful in the subconscious, the subconscious can’t figure out what to do with it so it turns it over, turns it over, turns it over, trying to come up with some relationship to it … So the work should have that aspect of not being easily placed. If it’s too easily placed, it has no impact.”

NO JOKE was shown concurrently in 2016 at Dittrich & Schlechtriem in Germany and the V1 Gallery in Denmark, and a follow-up presentation was featured at the world’s largest photography festival Paris Photo in the same year. Now, Diesel Art Gallery is delighted to bring NO JOKE to Japan. The show features 25 pieces selected from the full 37 images in the series. Books and other merchandise related to the project will also be on sale at the gallery.

*1:Displacement: A defense mechanism in which one’s original desires are substituted for others that are more easily fulfilled.
*2:Exquisite corpse: A collaborative artistic method that traces its roots to Surrealism. Though it features the work of multiple artists, each artist creates their own part while remaining unaware of what their collaborators are making. The original French term is “le cadavre exquis”.

Information

Title: NO JOKE
Artists: Roger Ballen, Asger Carlsen
Date: May 26 – August 17, 2017
WEB : www.diesel.co.jp/art
Address : cocoti B1F, 1-23-16, Shibuya,Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
Phone : 03-6427-5955
Hours : 11:30 – 21:00
Holidays : Non-regular holiday
Curation : Tomo Kosuga (PLAY TANK)

【Asger Carlsen / Book Signing】

A signing event will be held during the exhibition period on May 26 19:00-21:00.

CURATOR : Tomo Kosuga (PLAY TANK)

www.tomokosuga.com
Tomo Kosuga is an art producer whose main focus is in the field of photography. He also works actively as an editor, writer, exhibition and event curator, and jury member for photography competitions. Kosuga is also the director of the Masahisa Fukase Archives, an organization dedicated to preserving and promoting the work of the late photographer Masahisa Fukase.

Installation Images

Photo: Wataru Kitao

Photo: Wataru Kitao

Photo: Wataru Kitao

Photo: Wataru Kitao

Photo: Wataru Kitao

Photo: Wataru Kitao

Photo: Wataru Kitao

Photo: Wataru Kitao

Photo: Wataru Kitao

Photo: Wataru Kitao

Photo: Wataru Kitao

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Biography

  • Roger Ballen

    www.rogerballen.com

    Roger Ballen is a photographer born in New York, USA in 1950 who now resides in South Africa. He is regarded as one of the most important figures in photography in the 21st century. For over 30 years he has lived and worked in Johannesburg. Ballen’s unique style of photographic expression has evolved through the use of a simple square format and beautiful black & white tones. His recent series include elaborate images featuring techniques normally reserved for paintings, collages, or sculptures. Despite having invented this new form of hybrid aesthetic, there is no doubt that Ballen’s roots still remain firmly in the photographic realm. He directed the music video “I Fink U Freeky” for Cape Town rave/hip-hop group Die Antwoord in 2012, which has amassed over 90 million views on YouTube as of today.

  • Asger Carlsen

    www.asgercarlsen.com

    Asger Carlsen was born in 1973 in Frederiksberg, Denmark and currently resides in New York. Carlsen is known for images that are at once refined yet somewhat grotesque, made through the application of digital processing to classic monotone photos. He launched his career at the age of 16 when he began selling his work to local newspapers. Carlsen would then become a commercial photographer after a stint shooting crime scenes. He now makes artwork for musicians like Fischerspooner, Cut Copy, and Ratatat, and has been featured in acclaimed publications like The New Yorker, The Huffington Post, Wired Magazine, Dazed and Confused, and Vice Magazine. Carlsen’s iconic books include “Hester” and “Wrong”.

View Works

Crumbled, 2016 © Roger Ballen and Asger Carlsen, Image Courtesy DITTRICH & SCHLECHTRIEM, Berlin.

Scared Cat, 2016 © Roger Ballen and Asger Carlsen, Image Courtesy DITTRICH & SCHLECHTRIEM, Berlin.

Sniff, 2016 © Roger Ballen and Asger Carlsen, Image Courtesy DITTRICH & SCHLECHTRIEM, Berlin.

Swollen Leg, 2016 © Roger Ballen and Asger Carlsen, Image Courtesy DITTRICH & SCHLECHTRIEM, Berlin.

Stretching, 2016 © Roger Ballen and Asger Carlsen, Image Courtesy DITTRICH & SCHLECHTRIEM, Berlin.

Chicken on Back, 2016 © Roger Ballen and Asger Carlsen, Image Courtesy DITTRICH & SCHLECHTRIEM, Berlin.

Morphed, 2016 © Roger Ballen and Asger Carlsen, Image Courtesy DITTRICH & SCHLECHTRIEM, Berlin.

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