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"I'm not trying to do anything except make pictures that challenge Roger Ballen" - a conversation with Roger Ballen

By Mila de Villiers

Roger Ballen. ©Alternative Print Workshop.

 
If you’re familiar with Die Antwoord, images of an anomalous Johannesburg, or raw photos of South Africa’s rural Afrikaans communities, you’ve probably come across Roger Ballen.

Ballen, whose photographic career spans over forty years, recently released Ballenesque, a monograph consisting of his oeuvre and previously unpublished images. ‘Ballenesque’ has become synonymous with his style which, over the past twenty years, has moved from being partly documentary to one that incorporates elements of drawing, painting, installation, and video.

As the photographic artist himself explains in his deep, measured voice: “This integration of medias has allowed me to create an aesthetic that is referred to as Ballenesque.”

I’m seated across Ballen in his large, well-lit office in Parktown, Johannesburg. The walls are adorned with framed images of his work. Stuffed animals, including a baboon, a serval and an aardvark, greet you once you enter the office space. He promises to acquaint me with the office rat (Stoffel).

As Ballen’s mother was involved with the Magnum Agency in New York, Ballen – who holds a PhD in geology – was introduced to photography at a young age, publishing his first book, Boyhood, at 28.

Boyhood consists of black and white images of boys, comprised mostly of a trip made from Cape Town to Cairo between 1973 and 1978.


Cover-Up, Indonesia, 1976.
 
Ballen describes Boyhood as “a trip into my own childhood. So all my pictures from those days had a psychological edge to them, an existential edge.”

Existentialism features heavily in Ballen’s work and he is renowned for having stated that “nothing” is the most profound word in the English language.

“Well, where do you come from, and where are you going?” Ballen reasons. “That’s the quandary everybody faces, that nothing can happen in a second from now. Then what?”

And does he think that’s a driving force for people?

Ja,” the native New Yorker responds. ”That’s the death instinct. It’s the thing that drives everything on the planet.

“That’s the purpose of what I’m doing. It’s the most fundamental force in anything alive, it’s dealing with the survival instinct … the need to stay alive in a hostile environment, especially in nature.”
 
 
 
 
Froggy Boy, USA, 1977.

“Hostile environments” and “nature” reminds me of Dorps, Ballen’s photographic series of dorpies shot in and around rural South Africa – not quite as Ballenesque as his more recent work, yet still stark, gritty, and – in classic Ballen style – black and white. Did Ballen’s profession as geologist propel him to study rural South Africa?

Ballen came back to South Africa in 1982, after having completed his PhD in geology, and at that time “there wasn’t a place on the planet that was more advanced in mining, metallurgy, mineral exploration.

“It was an interesting country and the people here at the time were very hospitable to me and it felt like I could make a difference here, I guess.”

Old Man, Ottoshoop, 1983.

 
Ballen made a gradual move to shooting poor, marginalised Afrikaans communities in South Africa, as portrayed in Platteland.

Platteland was photographed between 1986 and 1994 – pivotal dates in our country’s history, with ’86 defined by the declaration of a state of emergency, and ’94 the advent of democracy.

How did an American geologist-cum-photographer “convince” armblankes to be subjects of his work during these turbulent years?

The conversation is interrupted by lively cooing from the speckled dove in a cage in the corner of his office, later introduced to me as Icarus.

Icarus.

 
“He likes you,” Ballen says, eyes drifting towards the dove, a look of affection crossing his face. “He’s listening, he’s saying ‘watch yourself there!’” [Cue hearty laughter.]

Photographing strangers can “happen quite spontaneously. You might find somebody in a shop and you talk to them and they invite you over for tea,” Ballen furthers.

Sgt F de Bruin, Dep of Prison Employees, OFS, 1992.

 
“I always have had a good relationship with the people that I have photographed over the years. I can hardly remember having a negative or hostile experience in anyway.

“Most importantly, I have always believed that the subject should benefit in some way from the experience whether it be my buying them food, clothing, or medicine, paying them for their work, or just listening and empathizing. Without any doubt, I feel that the people that I have worked with over the years have been much more hospitable towards me that many of the well-off people that I have encountered.

“I didn’t necessarily go there with somebody to make fun of people and cause issues; I’m still friendly with a lot of these people 30 years later. They message me, or call me. I can feel it in my pocket,” he says patting his trouser pocket in which his phone had just vibrated.

Photography isn’t just a matter of “finding somebody who you think has an interesting face and taking their picture,” he continues. “It’s very, very difficult and in fact it takes a great photograph that has some lasting power. For something to rise above the ‘normal’, to have some sort of effect on people’s subconscious mind, is very difficult.”

Man shaving on veranda, Western TVL, 1986.

 
The struggle to capture photos with lasting power is perpetuated by the billions of images we’re confronted with on a daily basis and an inability to “separate the more artistic level of photography from the more mundane,” Ballen states.

This begs the question whether social media platforms are nullifying or destroying photography.

“I use these things myself. I Instagram. It’s a means of exchanging information. The problem is the evaluation of these images.”

PSA, Kim K fans: you better stop reading here…

“The Kardashian woman takes a picture of her shoe on the floor and it gets two million hits. Or her cigarette that she just smoked and it gets five million hits. But the picture’s horrible. My dog could almost take the picture. But it had five million hits!” he incredulously declares.

“Monetary value, or the “like”-value, effects how you see the picture. It’s very confusing.”

Ballen is uncertain about whether this problem can be solved or addressed productively.

“You know I’m a geologist – see the rocks there?” he asks, pointing towards a collection of rocks aligned on the window sill, “that goes to a lab and the lab will tell you exactly if you want to know how much copper is in a block. Look at this picture,” he proceeds, indicating to one of his framed images, “is it good or bad? Do you like it? That one doesn’t like it. So you have this enormous subjectivity involved in this media. This is why it’s a confusing subject.”

Since 1997, the year in which Ballen’s Outland project was produced, his work has progressed into a style described as “documentary fiction”.

Ballen defines “documentary” as en external experience and regards “fiction” as something your imagination creates. The images in The Outland, Boarding House and Shadow Chamber feature Johannesburg’s “fringe” characters, often wearing masks, captured in confined spaces, drawings and marks etched on the walls. A sense of the abnormal and outlandish is created.

Since we, as humans, occupy space both physically and mentally, I’m curious to know whether Ballen intentionally shoots these peripheral people in confined spaces as means to capture the place where the mental “meets” the physical.


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

One Arm Goose, 2004. (L)
Cut Loose, 2005. (R)
 
“The first thing you have to realise is that whatever I’m saying, I’m saying visually,” the artist answers. “I’ve always stated that if I can talk about the picture in precising words, it’s probably a bad picture. That’s the first step. That’s what differentiates me from most South African photographers – I’m not a political photographer; I’m psychological.

“Dealing with aesthetics and, more importantly, trying to reach the subconscious mind and transform the subconscious mind of myself and expand the subconscious of myself and hopefully others… The issue is I’m not trying to do anything except make pictures that challenge Roger Ballen.”

His work certainly is psychological, but it isn’t his intention to elicit a certain response from audiences, questioning the meaning of “the response”.

“What is a response if somebody finds them disturbing and humorous at the same time? What is the response? What would you call that?

“They’re mindscapes,” he says of his photos.

“They’re real scapes and they’re mindscapes and the reason they have an effect on you is they have an ability to enter your mind and your mind doesn’t … your mind is unclear how to react to them.

“The pictures, to have to have an effect, have to break through your repression, unleash your repression, and reach some so-called “core place”. The issue is that the pictures have to have an ability to get at somebody and challenge people’s status; that’s my goal.”

Ballen explains that his photos present a part of your being which you’re unaccustomed to.

“‘Disturbing’ is not really the right word – they’re unleashing. They’re presenting a segment of yourself, which you’re not used to you. It’s like if you’re looking in a mirror, especially when you’re tired or you’re sick – you get a little bit of a shock, you know? And you say “Shit, is that me? I can’t believe it”.”

In the accompanying video for Outland, shot by local filmmaker Ben Jay Crossman, one of the “fringe” characters to feature in the work, a man named  Stanley who catches and releases rats on a daily basis, tells Ballen how “Ben can’t believe his eyes with all these people around here.” Is this something people often comment on? Has he ever been asked if he attempts to “normalise” the “abnormal”?

Head Below Wires, 1999.

 
“I’m not very clear about normality at all. I’m not convinced about normality. I’m not convinced about abnormality, either. These terms you used – in a way to protect people’s subconscious minds, they classify abnormality and normality. And if somebody is abnormal they don’t have to deal with it in certain ways. Obviously I’m not talking about the extremes, there are a lot of people who have serious biological, physiological problems…”

Five Hands, 2006.

 
Ballen dislikes the claims that he’s appropriating or exploiting the people he photographs as, for the last 15 years, he’s “finally had a face in the picture. So when we talk about Roger Ballen’s work, like in the last 10 years almost, it’s always been about animals. What does he think? [This question is asked whilst indicating towards Icarus.] He likes it? He’s fed up with these comments. He’s thinking “why are you always talking about people?” We’re trying to use our own words to define his reality and you don’t understand his reality, you never will.”

Although Ballen does not like to use the word “inspiration”, he discloses that “if somebody pointed a gun to my head, I would probably say [Samuel] Beckett.” This in response to his work having been compared to Diane Arbus’s, something Ballen disputes; especially the type of work he did in Platteland.

“There was an aspect of people living in these places who were marginalised, living on the edge, who weren’t coping, who were strange … there was some correspondence between what Diane Arbus was doing and what I was doing. But at the beginning of Outland, about ’97, there was a real divergence between what she was doing and what I did. Outland was focused on human absurdity; Diane Arbus wasn’t interested in that. Roger Ballen Theatre started to come about; Diane Arbus wasn’t interested in that.”

Clockwise from top left: Altercation, 2012. Devour, 2013. Tommy, Samson and a Mask, 2000.

Ballen’s love of – and appreciation for – animals is evident in his work, and he has two books dedicated to animals, including Asylum of the Birds. Absentmindedly waving in the direction of the dove as I ask what it is about birds that intrigues him, he tells me “Icarus. His name’s Icarus.

“My first-grade teacher was obsessed by Greek mythology. In fact, the first book that I bought without my parents intervention was the Iliad and the Odyssey. My favorite character in Greek mythology was Zeus as he was the ultimate God. I remember climbing Mount Olympus and feeling his presence.

“Greek myths are really revealing,” Ballen continues. “They’re like dreams. There was something nice about being able to … reassuring to call a beautiful bird after something special about doing it. The name has a very strong, warm, positive feeling in my mind. To use the word is actually soothing in a way. Instead of calling him some pseudo-yuppie name.”

Smiling, he rhetorically states “He’s a nice bird, hey?”

Ballen owns “a lot” of birds, and has “some place where I keep about 300 owls. But not as pets. I like all animals.”

Rats, especially, feature prominently in his photos. Why does he finds this singular rodent so remarkable?

“I believe the rat is the most intelligent species on the planet based on their brain size. I own many as pets and am amazed at their ability to learn,” he responds.

“The rat lives everywhere on the planet, can eat almost anything, and is able to survive in the most difficult of environmental circumstances. In western cultures rats are looked down upon, but ultimately, they are a product of nature and no better or no worse than any other species.”

Besides rats, Ballen’s animal photography includes images of pigeons, snakes, pigs, and goats. Ballen attributes his photographing of these “ordinary” animals to the setting of his photos.

“All the pictures I take are on the inside … inside buildings. So you wouldn’t necessarily find a tiger or a rhinoceros inside some room in Johannesburg. That really would be a little bit strange. A lion inside a room … somebody asleep on top of a lion,” he replies, chortling.

His interest in taking pictures of animals and in animal psychologies started as a teen, he adds.

“I’ve always been interested in the animal side of the human behaviour and the primitive side of the mind and the relationship ultimately between humans and animals and how this relationship is distorted by contemporary life.”

Ballen critiques Disney, citing that one of the reoccurring motifs – “all the animals love the people, and the people love the animals, and they get along” – creates the wrong idea of the historic relationship between animals and humans.

Puppy Between Feet, 1999.

 
“There’s a fundamental fear of nature; this is part of the genes of the species. There’s fundamental dislike of nature. We need to control nature because of this genetic evolution of the species. So in fact there’s no real harmonious relationship between humans and nature.”

In the majority of his photos featuring animals, Ballen will have the person in the photo holding or cuddling the animal. To what extent does he “direct” a photo?

“Every picture is different, first of all. There’s always this relationship in my pictures between what could have been there, what is spontaneous, and what I could have put there. So you always have that so-called tension in a lot of the pictures. 

“I always say the pictures are interactive, and that’s all you can say. And ultimately they’re pictures that Roger Ballen created; images that nobody else could create. So Roger Ballen is a Roger Ballen world, so yes, they’re all – they exist as pictures as a result of Roger Ballen. That’s it. That’s what they are. They don’t exist spontaneously. They don’t exist spontaneously because they’re ways of organising the world through a camera and through your mind.”

One can’t speak to Ballen without enquiring about his collaboration with Die Antwoord, considering he directed the music video for the zef-rap-rave duo’s 2012 hit, I Fink U Freeky.

Shack scene, Johannesburg, 2012.

 
Ballen’s aesthetic is palpable in the video. Think Ninja in a loincloth. Yo-Landi wearing black contact lenses. The walls covered with unsettling drawings and marks. And rats. Many, many rats.

Unfortunately Ballen can’t remember whether any of the rats were his own.

“That’s a really good question,” he replies, brow furrowed. “I think they were … I think they were my rats. But Yo-Landi had some rats at the time. I introduced her to rats.”

Zef culture, as popularised by Die Antwoord, and Ballen’s style wouldn’t necessarily be described as congruent; it was with their introduction to Ballen’s Outland that “they stopped doing whatever they were doing and reinvented themselves as Die Antwoord. It had a major effect on them,” Ballen explains.

“My aesthetic hit their subconscious mind in some way that they saw something in the work that inspired them to move in another direction. Yo-Landi contacted me, they wanted to show me their videos, they wanted to do a project with me.”

This correspondence went on for a number of years and when I Fink U Freeky was produced it went “totally viral. Totally viral.” (The video currently has over 107 million views. Sjoe.)

It’s surprising that Ballen’s art features in a music video, as his response to an interviewer enquiring what music one should listen to while perusing his work, was “no music”. Did he ever imagine that he would collaborate with musicians?

“I didn’t have many expectations, this happened all spontaneously. If music is used as a vehicle with somebody with more musical skills than myself to create a … Extending the reality of my imagery and my aesthetic, well that’s great. I’m happy … The most important thing I saw was the power of the video. Since then … I don’t know if you saw Asylum of the Birds?”

I answer in the affirmative.

“And The Outland video, and The Ballenesque video. I don’t think I’d ever have done that if it wasn’t for I Fink U Freeky. I didn’t realise how my imagery and what I’m doing could be transformed to moving image. This was a really important event in my career.”

In light of Ballen’s recent The Theatre of Apparitions video, one wonders whether he’s considering doing similar audiovisual work in the future.

Face Off, 2010.

 
“Definitely. I have a new project now,” is the enthusiastic response.

“It’s like this animated, well, it’s like a cartoon-figure I’ve been working with in the photographs. The photographs are animated. So this cartoonish type of character that’s involved in situations most people would not do, or can’t do. So it’s symbolic of liberation and mischievousness.”

Is he by any chance extending himself into this character with “free reigns”? Would he describe it as a liberating process?

Jaja. I guess,” he thoughtfully replies, before candidly stating “I’m not that repressed.

“To me it’s more of a humorous activity. It’s a creative activity, the characters are liberating me in a way. It’s an enjoyable process.”

Compared to his past work, which is very much psychologically challenging, will he describe the experience of this project as more enjoyable?

“This animated series isn’t as complex as some of the others, but I enjoy them all. I wouldn’t do them if I didn’t enjoy them. Because I never really try to make pictures for other people, it’s always been my own personal goals. When it’s been satisfying … It’s gratifying that you know people ultimately must have responded to what I’ve done; it’s great as an artist – what more can an artist ask for, in a way. It’s pretty deafening if there’s no response.”

The Divided Self, 2016.
 

Five final questions

 
You’ve been living and working in the surrounds of Johannesburg since the 1970s. Could you describe Johannesburg, or what Johannesburg means to you?

Well, you know, I have a picture in the Apparitions book, it’s called Divided Self. Joburg, in a way, has that aspect to it. On one side it represents a social-political-cultural reality and on the other side is another social-political reality. And they don’t really harmonise really well. Back to what we were talking about, I would say Joburg is symbolic of the divide of itself.

 As an artist you combine fact and fiction; as a reader, do you prefer to read fact or fiction?

I’m very multi-dimensional in terms of my history of reading and I’m quite well educated. Everything – theatre to fiction to philosophy; the poetry, the geology, economics. It’s really difficult because I have such a range of things I’ve been interested in over the years so I can’t really say if it’s fact or fiction, it’s a whole range of things. Is theatre fiction or is it fact? Theatre, by its nature, is almost totally documentary; partly fictional. I like things with interaction between fact and fiction.

Can you give me an example?

Well, you take something like [Joseph] Conrad’s work. He spent time on boats, travelling all over the world … He transformed it into his own world. It’s hard to know what was really the place, and what was his memory.

Yo-Landi Visser once described you as “the weirdest person I’ve ever met”. I think that’s such a compliment…

People make these comments, like “weirdest person”, “that picture is disturbing”. I’m happy; it’s great. I guess the worst thing they could say is that the work is boring.

Icarus’s lively cooing interrupts the conversation once more.

What do you think? [This question is posed to Icarus.] It’s the most he’s ever talked. He’s really enjoying what’s going on here. He’s really liking what we’re doing here. He really never does this much talking. He’s a quiet bird. We had these doves, these laughing doves, and the rest of the staff here … it was driving them crazy, so I took them out of the office.

Have you ever been accused of being boring?

No, I hate to disappoint you.

***

Book details

Boyhood

 
 
 

Ballenesque

 
 
 

Dorps

 
 
 

Platteland

 
 
 

Outland

 
 
 

Boarding House

 
 
 

Shadow Chamber

 
 
 

Asylum of the Birds

 
 
 

Roger Ballen: Die Antwoord

 
 
 

The Theatre of Apparitions

 
 
 

Launch: Ballenesque by Roger Ballen (12 December)

P H Centre – Photo Gallery & Bookstore is proud to be hosting the launch of Roger Ballen’s latest book, Ballenesque – Roger Ballen: A Retrospective.

This timely and comprehensive retrospective takes a linear path, with personal reflections by Ballen, which are central to this detailed exploration of his style. With over 300 photographs and an introduction by cultural theorist and critic, Robert J. C. Young, Ballenesque offers a new way of looking at the work of one of the world’s most important and original photographers.

As part of the opening, Ballen will give a presentation about his work, with images and videos related to the book and his career. The winner of the Ballenesque Photo Competition will also be announced.

An exciting exhibition, featuring a selection of iconic Ballen images from the artist’s highly acclaimed career runs until the 9th February 2018.

About the Author:

Roger Ballen is an American-born photographer who has lived and worked in South Africa since the 1970s. His previous award-winning books include Platteland (1994), Outland (2001), Shadow Chamber (2005), Boarding House (2009), Asylum of the Birds (2014) and The Theatre of Apparitions (2016). Ballen’s photographs are collected by some of the most important institutions in the world and he has won numerous prestigious awards in photography and filmmaking. Robert J. C. Young is a British postcolonial theorist, cultural critic and historian. He is currently the Dean of Arts and Humanities at New York University Abu Dhabi.

Event Details

Zapiro's back. His target? 2017, aka the year of Juju's reboot, Zille's tweets, and a certain shebeen in Saxonwold...

No little thorn in the flesh or irritating fly in the ointment, Zapiro just cannot be ignored.

It’s been one helluva year. We’ve held our breath thinking Zuma may resign. We’ve seen Juju re-booted and Zille tweeted out. Racial tensions rise, tempers and fires flare. Still the rich get richer and the poor get Khayelitsha.

We’ve seen Trump’s megalomania, Bell Pottinger’s spin and Pravin’s fightback, cadres captured and Cabinet’s relocation to Saxonwold Shebeen.

GuptaLeaks threaten to drown us and as the flood rises the rodents scatter.

And who better to make sense of this than Zapiro, political analyst, cartoonist and agent provocateur.

He has the ability to knock the air out of us, to rock us back in our seats, to force us bolt upright with a 1000-watt jolt of electrifying shock. He makes us angry, he makes us laugh and he makes us think. He shines a light on the elephant in the room, presents the emperor in all his naked glory. Impossible to brush off, he is determined to provoke a response.

When all around is crumbling, when fake news and zipped lips conceal the truth, Zapiro comes to the rescue. With the dissecting eye of a surgeon, the rapier-like point of his pen exposes flimflam, and reveals with a line what lies behind the action.

Zapiro is Jonathan Shapiro. Born in 1958, he went through architecture at UCT, conscription, activism, detention and a Fulbright scholarship to New York before establishing himself as South Africa’s best-known cartoonist. He has been the editorial cartoonist for the Sunday Times since 1998 and Daily Maverick starting 2017. Previously he was editorial cartoonist for Mail & Guardian and for The Times. He was also editorial cartoonist for Sowetan and Independent Newspapers. He has published 21 best-selling annuals as well as The Mandela Files, VuvuzelaNation (a collection of his sporting cartoons) and DemoCrazy (his cartoon collection on SA’s 20-year trip.)

Book details

"How do you have sex in space?" Read John Maytham's Rapid Fire and find out...

What is the origin of the word ‘bluetooth’? How do you have sex in space? Which UK football ground is surrounded by Bloemfontein and South Africa roads? When walking round Rondebosch Common, why is it wise not to go widdershins?

These are just a few of the questions put to the formidable John Maytham by 567 CapeTalk listeners to test his remarkable general knowledge in the ever popular Rapid Fire insert on the afternoon drive-time show. Now, join the veteran broadcaster on a tour of some of the oddest, arcane and most surprising questions – and be tickled by the weird and wonderful answers.

‘John Maytham may be the most erudite and interesting person on air, and if you read this book, a little John Maytham will rub off on you.’ Darrel Bristow-Bovey
 
 
John Maytham is 567 CapeTalk radio station’s afternoon drive-time host. He is a trained actor who made the switch to radio more than 20 years ago, when he joined the news team at Capital Radio 604. He joined CapeTalk as news editor and breakfast host when it was started in 1997, and was the first person to speak on the station.

Book details

Wenners van kykNet-Rapport-boekpryse 2017 bekend

Die wenners van die kykNET-Rapport-boekpryse – die grootste pryse van hul soort in Afrikaans – is op Saterdag 30 September 2017 in Kaapstad bekend gemaak. Die Jan Rabie-Rapportprys vir die beste debuutroman in Afrikaans asook die twee kykNET-Rapportpryse vir boekresensent van die jaar is by dieselfde geleentheid oorhandig.

Hulde is gebring aan ontslape skrywers soos Karel Schoeman en PG du Plessis, maar die aand het behoort aan die huidige geslag skrywers, wat sulke geleenthede moontlik en gedenkwaardig maak. Hettie Scholtz, sameroeper van die drie hoofboekpryse, het die skrywers geloof vir boeke wat diep sny, diep delf, en ’n aar raak boor. “Dit het by my ’n insig van Chesterton opgeroep, sy geloof dat daar één ding is wat ’n helderheid aan dinge verleen: die vermoede van iets nét om die draai. Ek kan werklik nie wag om te sien waarmee hierdie skrywers volgende vorendag gaan kom nie! Hierby sluit ek die inskrywings vir die Jan Rabie-Rapportprys in.”

Die kykNET-Rapport-boekpryse met ’n gesamentlike prysgeld van R500 000 is toegeken aan die volgende skrywers:
- Fiksie: Huilboek, Ryk Hattingh (Human & Rousseau)
- Niefiksie: Emily Hobhouse: Geliefde Verraaier, Elsabé Brits (Tafelberg)
- Film: Al wat ek weet, Marita van der Vyver, (Lapa)

Die keurders het die fiksiewenner, Ryk Hattingh, geloof “vir sy sagkense behandeling van groot dinge, die subtiliteit van segging, die beskeie toon en algehele gebrek aan selfkoestering. Die manier waarop hy persoonlike pyn uiteindelik, sonder politieke grandstandery, vestig in die konteks van ’n hele land se trauma, is uitsonderlik en maak van Huilboek ’n prestasie in hoe groot kragte in beweging gestel kan word deur ’n minimum aan woorde en vertoon.”

Waardering is ook uitgespreek vir die niefiksiewenner, Elsabé Brits, se herbesoek aan ou bronne oor Emily Hobhouse “wat ons in staat stel om opnuut in hierdie merkwaardige vrou die eienskappe te sien wat aan die kern lê van ons universele menslikheid – die vermoë om te empatiseer met die onderdruktes, op te staan vir reg en geregtigheid selfs teen ’n hoë persoonlike en politieke prys, om nood en lyding te verlig ongeag waar dit voorkom. Sy skets Hobhouse as die vergestalting van verset soos dit in die woorde van die Nederlandse digter Remco Campert gedefinieer word: Om aan jouself ’n vraag te vra, daarmee begin verset – en om dit dan aan ’n ander te vra. Dit noop ons om in die Suid-Afrika van vandag weer hierdie kritiese vrae te vra oor menswaardigheid, gelykheid, en weerstand.”

Marita van der Vyver se jeugboek Al wat ek weet het van die prysaand ’n behoorlike rap-aand gemaak. Sy is geloof vir die ligte, vaardige hand waarmee sy die sensitiewe verhaal van ’n seun van gemengde afkoms stuur tot waar hy sy plek in die groter bestel van die lewe vind. En dit deur die skryf van rap songs waarmee hy sy verliese en woede transendeer en sy eie stem vind. “Dis ’n verhaal wat getuig van besondere vakmanskap, een wat smeek om verfilm te word,” sê keurder Herman Binge. “Dink – nét vir ’n oomblik – aan die nuwe Afrikaanse treffers wat hierdie film gaan oplewer, die eerste volwaardige hip-hop-fliek in Afrikaans!”

Die Jan Rabie-Rapportprys ter waarde van R35 000 is vanjaar toegeken aan Valda Jansen vir Hy kom met die skoenlappers (Human & Rousseau). Volgens die keurders is Jansen se debuutroman in vele opsigte meer as “’n elegie aan verlore liefde”, soos dit op die omslag bestempel word. Dit word “’n pynlik intieme en deurtastende verkenning van al die maniere waarop ’n hele lewe soos een byna noodwendig verspeelde kans kan voorkom . . . Jansen kleur nie dit wat persoonlik is ooit met groot politieke stellings nie, maar wys hoe onontwarbaar die persoonlike en die politieke in Suid-Afrika verstrengel is. Haar debuut gee ’n aangrypende en ontstemmende blik op ’n bevreemdende, bruin middelklas-ervaring van apartheid; ’n genuanseerde perspektief op ’n benarde posisie wat nog bitter min in Afrikaanse fiksie belig is.”

Die kykNET-Rapportpryse vir boekresensent van die jaar, vir die beste Afrikaanse resensies wat in 2016 oor ’n Afrikaanse fiksie- of niefiksiewerk onderskeidelik verskyn het, is ook oorhandig. Die wenners, wat elk R25 000 ontvang het, is:
- Fiksie: Danie Marais vir “Die ‘Kook en Geniet’ van oneerbiedigheid” (oor Anton Kannemeyer en Conrad Botes se Bitterkomix 17, Media24-dagblaaie, 4 Julie 2016), en
- Niefiksie: Emile Joubert vir “Die afkook van ’n vol lewe vind hier beslag” (oor Wat die hart van vol is deur Peter Veldsman met Elmari Rautenbach, Media24-dagblaaie, 31 Oktober 2016).

Die keurpanele vir die onderskeie pryse was: kykNET-Rapport-fiksieprys: Frederik de Jager, Elmari Rautenbach, Steward van Wyk en Gerrit Schoonhoven; kykNET-Rapport-niefiksieprys: Herman Wasserman, Irma du Plessis, Darryl David en Herman Binge; kykNET-Rapport-filmprys: Herman Binge en Gerrit Schoonhoven; kykNET-Rapport-boekresensentpryse: Bibi Slippers, Alfred Schaffer, Jomarié Botha en Yvonne Beyers; Jan Rabie-Rapportprys: Elna van der Merwe, Danie Marais en Kerneels Breytenbach.

Die seremoniemeesters vir die aand was Karen Meiring van kykNet en Waldimar Pelser van Rapport. Die prysfunksie is by die Dapper Coffee Company restaurant in Kaapstad gehou.

Boekbesonderhede

Huilboek

 
 
 
 
Emily Hobhouse

 
 
 
 
Al wat ek weet

 
 
 
 
Hy kom met die skoenlappers

 
 
 
 
Bitterkomix 17

 
 
 
 
Wat die hart van vol is

Kortlyste vir die kykNET-Rapport Boekresensent van die Jaar-toekennings 2017 bekendgemaak

Die Afrikaanse resensiebedryf kan homself op die skouer klop te oordeel na die gehalte van inskrywings wat vir vanjaar se kykNET-Rapport Boekresensent van die Jaar-wedstryd ontvang is.

Die kortlyste is pas bekend gemaak vir dié pryse, wat ingestel is om die belange van boeke en die leesgenot van boekliefhebbers te bevorder deur die wêreld van Afrikaanse boeke vir die breë Suid-Afrikaanse publiek toeganklik te maak. Dit dien ook as aanmoediging om hoë standaarde in die Afrikaanse boekjoernalistiek te handhaaf.

Altesaam 33 van die voorste resensente in Afrikaans het vanjaar ingeskryf, tien meer as verlede jaar. Twee pryse van R25 000 elk word toegeken vir die beste Afrikaanse resensie wat in 2016 oor Afrikaansie fiksie en niefiksie onderskeidelik verskyn het. Die kortlyste, wat uit 90 inskrywings saamgestel is, is soos volg:

Fiksie

Danie Marais: “Die ‘Kook en Geniet’ van oneerbiedigheid” (oor Anton Kannemeyer en Conrad Botes se Bitterkomix 17, Media24-dagblaaie, 4 Julie 2016)
Charl-Pierre Naudé: “Digterlike afdruk van ‘n lewe verbeeld” (oor Bibi Slippers se Fotostaatmasjien, Media 24-dagblaaie, 5 Desember 2016)
Elmari Rautenbach: “Debuut se stiltes ’n elegie aan verlore liefde” (oor Valda Jansen se Hy kom met die skoenlappers, Media 24-dagblaaie, 18 Julie 2016)

Niefiksie

Reinhardt Fourie: Vlam in die sneeu: Die liefdesbriewe van André P. Brink en Ingrid Jonker (geredigeer deur Francis Galloway, Tydskrif vir letterkunde, September/Oktober 2016)
Daniel Hugo: “Een van die heel grotes” (oor Om Hennie Aucamp te onthou, saamgestel deur Danie Botha, Rapport, 14 Februarie 2016)
Emile Joubert: “Die afkook van ’n vol lewe vind hier beslag” (oor Wat die hart van vol is deur Peter Veldsman met Elmari Rautenbach, Media24-dagblaaie, 31 Oktober 2016)

Die keurders was boekjoernalis en digter Bibi Slippers (sameroeper), senior joernalis en skrywer Jomarié Botha en digter en dosent Alfred Schaffer. Aangesien ’n werk van Slippers geresenseer is, is sy vir die finale keuring deur die redakteur van Huisgenoot, Yvonne Beyers, vervang.

Die keurders was dit eens dat die inskrywings deur die bank van ’n baie hoë gehalte was en werklik leeslus aanwakker.

“Daar was heelparty gevalle waar ek nie noodwendig onder normale omstandighede in ’n sekere boek sou belangstel nie, maar die resensent se entoesiasme en insigte het my genoeg geprikkel om dit ’n kans te wil gee,” sê Slippers.

“Dit was ook veral heerlik om verskillende resensies van belangrike boeke soos Die na-dood, Vlakwater en Koors te lees, en uiteenlopende interpretasies en leesbenaderings te kan ervaar via die resensente.”

Daar was vanjaar heelwat nuwe name onder die resensente wat ingeskryf het. “Ek hoop dat ons deur inisiatiewe soos dié die poel selfs verder kan vergroot. Hoe meer ingeligte, intelligente menings uit verskillende perspektiewe verteenwoordig is, hoe beter vir alle rolspelers in die boekbedryf,” sê Slippers.

Die wenners word op 30 September 2017 saam met die wenners van die kykNET-Rapport-boekpryse in Kaapstad aangekondig.
 

Bitterkomix 17Boekbesonderhede

 
 

Fotostaatmasjien

 
 

Hy kom met die skoenlappers

 
 

Vlam in die sneeu

 
 

Om Hennie Aucamp te onthou

 
 

Wat die hart van vol is