Triggered!: Roger Ballen

Triggered!: Roger Ballen

One Arm Goose, 2004 © Roger Ballen

One Arm Goose, 2004 © Roger Ballen

Welcome to our new feature, “Triggered!”. Each week, we will be featuring a single work by a photographer, and asking them to write about what was going through their head, why the photograph was taken, what "triggered" the photograph. Our premiere artist is Roger Ballen.


By Roger Ballen

In 2004, I frequently visited a place in Johannesburg, South Africa where various people from all walks of society were staying without any place to go to. One of the young boys I became friendly with had a pet goose who would follow him around and attack anyone who came near him. He asked me to photograph him and his pet, but because the goose was so unfriendly, he posed him behind a wooden plank holding his neck. As I started to focus my Rollei on the scene, his younger sister picked up a worn-out doll’s arm and put it next to the wing of the goose. The action by the young girl was the trigger that transformed the image from one zone to the next.  

One Arm Goose was an important photograph in my career as it marked a turning point where my images started to express, what I might refer to as, “absurd surrealism”.

Fresson Printing Process

Fresson Printing Process

IMPACT | JR: Dignity

IMPACT | JR: Dignity