A photography exhibition featuring 40 black-and-white photographs by Roger Ballen will open on January 28 at the Daum Museum of Contemporary Art at State Fair Community College.

"We've done photo shows before, but this is, I believe, the first time we're really focusing on, as the main exhibition, a show of contemporary photography," said Tom Piché , director of the Daum Museum. The show will be entitled Asylum of the Birds. "These are black-and-white photographs, and its sort of a dark-ish subject. Roger Ballen lives in South Africa, he's American but he's spent the last four decades in South Africa, in the Johannesburg area, and he has come across a kind of forgotten house on the outskirts of the city where a variety of people - drifters, homeless people, refugees - have pulled together and they have made a home there. He goes and works with them and takes photographs of his own imagining. He comes up with kind of dreamy or nightmarish images, and he uses these people as his actors."

The resulting images are layered with graffiti, drawings, animals, and found objects that blur the line between fantasy and reality, a quality Ballen has described as “documentary fiction." Roger Ballen's work has been shown throughout the world. He will be coming to the United States in April. Piché says that at that time a public lecture will be scheduled with Ballen on the SFCC campus.

As a complement to Ballen’s exhibit, twenty prints from the Daum’s permanent collection of more than 700 photographs have been selected for display. "We have a large collection of photography," said Piché. "We went in there and pulled out twenty to form an exhibition that we're calling Shadowland, and we're taking some of the ideas that Roger Ballen deals with in his Asylum of the Birds and we've found about thirteen artists who are dealing with some of those same issues: psychological complexity, things that are slightly ominous, or suggestive of dreams or nightmares. Some of them are really poetic, I think."

The Daum Museum of Contemporary Arts is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, and 1 p.m. -5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Admission is free.