No Joke by Roger Ballen and Asger Carlsen


In the collaborative project No Joke, artists Roger Ballen  (b. 1950, US) and Asger Carlsen (b. 1973, DK), explore the more sinister sides of the human psyche. Together the duo produced 37 images, without ever working in the same studio at the same time: their creative exchange and co-creation has been a purely online affair. Their menacing work evokes a sense of anxiety and longing that is usually experienced only in dreams.

© Trampled, 2016, Roger Ballen Asger Carlsen

Asger Carlsen first suggested collaborating with Roger Ballen for an assignment by VICE in 2013. This evolved into a remarkable creative exchange that is conducted online only: the images with a white background originated in Carlsen’s studio in New York, while the images with a dark background originated in Johannesburg, where Ballen lives and works. The artists sent their work to each other and elaborated further on each other’s images. This resulted in the dark and mysterious book No Joke (Mörel Books, 2016): a collection of still lifes, crippled female figures, and fusions of their self-portraits.

No Joke at Foam is the first presentation in a museum of this work. The obscurely designed presentation shows framed images on dark-grey walls. The works are accompanied by bizarre sculptures and installations created by the two artists on-site, specifically for this exhibition. The sculptures form spatial renderings of their photographic images.

© Chicken on Back, 2016, Roger Ballen Asger Carlsen
© Stretching, 2016, Roger Ballen Asger Carlsen

23 June until 27 August 2017