“Those who live on the edge, who stare into the abyss, who find light in the darkness.”
A spontaneous trip to London visiting The Photographers Gallery in Soho is where I first discovered both Roger Ballen and Die Antwoord; the two have captivated me ever since.
Combining the fierce and delirious South African rave/rap group Die Antwoord (consisting of two rappers Ninja and Yolandi Visser) with Roger Ballen’s presentation of people in an alienated and disturbing form produced a spectacular raw outcome for the music video of their single ‘I Fink U Freeky’ in 2012.
A year later, the stills taken from the music video were put into a book published by Random House Project. The end result being the book consisting of aggressive faces, intimidating body language and perplexing settings. “This book is dedicated to those who live on the edge, who stare into the abyss, who find light in darkness.” is a quote taken from the book which represents the darkness of Roger Ballen’s photography and Die Antwoord’s audacious sound and image exactly.
Ninja and Yolandi Visser explain the impact that Roger Ballen had on the group – “Suddenly all the music and imagery we had been working on up until this point seemed fuckin’ wack in comparison to Roger Ballen’s freak-mode zone. We also wanted to make heavyweight ‘Punch You In The Face’ –style art like this.” “This raw, demented graffiti had a huge influence on us psychologically. This graffiti ripped open the filters that protected our conscious thoughts from our animal-like subconscious zones.”
Embracing our differences, grasping hold of our attributes and standing out from the crowd I believe is something we should all learn and take on board from Die Antwoord and Roger Ballen.
Words by Isabella Nazroo