To quote Ninja, the picture quickly “blew up on the interwebs”, receiving over 3000 “likes” (and counting…). This is not surprising, as it was taken by renowned photographer Roger Ballen, whose photography has had a formative influence on the band.
Ballen also photographed the band for a recent New York Times profile article. In traditional Zef style, the shoot was not without violence, as two of the doves brought in to pose were mauled by Ninja and Yo-Landi’s cat. In the profile, Eve Fairbanks writes an illuminating piece about how the democratic elections in South Africa became not just a political liberation for blacks, but an artistic liberation for whites, particularly Afrikaners:
“We r taking 1 day / nite off 2 get really drunk wif some homies in a dodgy hood in Johannesburg called FIETAS on New Years Eve,” the e-mail read. “Dere are always fights in Fietas on New Years Eve which should be fun.” And so Ninja, the leader of the South African rap-rave crew Die Antwoord, invited me to ring in 2012 in the lair of zef, the scene the band brought to the world two years ago with a viral music video called “Zef Side.” Zef is the nasty, freaky, gleefully trashy underbelly of post-apartheid white South African culture. It is bling and bruises and weed-whacker mullets like the one sported by Yo-Landi Vi$$er, the tiny blonde who orbits Ninja like a foulmouthed muse.
Last year Ballen republished his collection called Dorps, which served prominently as a visual reference in the creation of Die Antwoord’s eerie image. The influence is particularly evident in their music video, “Wat Pomp“.
Last year, Ballen was interviewed by Books LIVE member Reney Warrington where he talks about his work with Die Antwoord and why he chose to republish Dorps with Protea Boekhuis:
With the republication of Dorps I had the opportunity to sit down with Roger Ballen and ask him a few questions.
I have heard this urban legend about how you got started in the industry. You took your first body of work and persistently went from gallery to gallery, introducing yourself and your work?
I was already 47 years old when I did Platteland. It became a well-known book in ’94, ’95, here and abroad, so I thought there might be scope for me to show my work outside of South Africa. I got such a mixed reception here, a violent reception, that it wasn’t much fun to show here.
- Dorps: The Small Towns of South Africa by Roger Ballen
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