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Lady Skollie, 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair
Lady Skollie

The fearless artist that South Africa needs

Through paintings, podcasts, and zines, Lady Skollie isn’t afraid to speak her mind about sex and women’s rights in a climate that isn’t always open to hearing it

Lady Skollie aka Laura Windvogel is someone that exudes provocative energy. The South African artist makes vital visual art, has her own sex talk radio show, and put together one of the best sex zines you’ll ever enjoy. Windvogel isn’t afraid to play with expectations or expression. With a practice this broad, she was made for the internet. As she points out, “We are in the digital era, so self-representation has never been as easy or cheap. Use it.” Skollie is showing in London during Frieze at the increasingly impressive 1:54 fair where you’ll be able to look at her graphic and painterly works around sexual violence.

What do you like about the idea of an alias?

Lady Skollie: It's less about hiding behind a pseudonym and more about the freedom I pretend I have by producing under an alias. To be completely honest, I'd be saying the same things even if I were saying it as Laura Windvogel. 

What does Skollie mean?

Lady Skollie: 'Skollie' is a term used to describe a shady character, most often for the mere fact that they're a person of colour, in a place they should not be (according to the white minority). I am also interested in the way the word 'Skollie' was used to oppress and stereotype… Now owning a pair of Air Maxes renders you a 'gangster' and 'street' and the term 'Skollie' is now a badge of honour. I am interested in the way street cred can be bought and curated. Mostly Lady Skollie is a play on the two parts of my personality that are often at war with each other. A couple of years ago, I had these ringlets and cute 1950s dresses. But inside, I always had this element of the obscene: wanting to be against authority, to challenge the norm. I looked like a little lady, but my mouth would be dirty. Lady Skollie is a space where those two things are harmonious.

What are you showing at 1:54?

Lady Skollie: A collection of works that were produced during Women's month in South Africa (August). I was commissioned by the acclaimed publications, The Mail and Guardian, to do the artwork for their yearly women's month supplement, “Abafazi”. Research led me to the darkest parts of LGBTQI violence, rape, and murder in many of South Africa's townships.

“I have a desire to be provocative in life in general; it can have its drawbacks but shock value has always had high worth to me. People like to be shocked more than they like being preached to; finding the right balance is important” – Lady Skollie

How did the Kaapstad Kinsey come together?

Lady Skollie: Kaapstad Kinsey (an ode to the sexologist Alfred Kinsey), was a sex-themed party, one of the first I hosted. It was the first time I had the opportunity to combine the things I loved; sex, parties, art and secrets. I compiled a questionnaire of five questions pertaining to people's first sexual experiences, illustrated a few of the scenarios, got support from TB & HIV Care Association, lube and condom sponsorship from a local company, Assegai, and even gave free entrance to those who got tested at the four participating clinics in the week leading up to the event. The stories that emerged ranged from terrifying to funny to downright bizarre. I had a great time handwriting stories that made me cry from mirth and disgust simultaneously. 

Do ideas around gender identity and fluidity play into what you do?

Lady Skollie: Of course. Sexual fluidity introduced itself to me at a tender age when I fell in love with a girl wearing a tiny suit; I just never thought being bisexual was an identity I could relate to; bisexuality is considered gluttony in most societies. 

Are you attracted to a desire to be provocative in your work?

Lady Skollie: I have a desire to be provocative in life in general; it can have its drawbacks but shock value has always had high worth to me. People like to be shocked more than they like being preached to; finding the right balance is important.

How did you start working with the pussy prints and VagEYEnas motifs? 

Lady Skollie: To me, the yonic shape is everywhere. The pussy print was always a type of palette cleanser of sorts for me; between projects to clear my mind, I would fill huge sheets of paper with the pussy print. It was like a debriefing ritual that became my signature. Repetition is key in calming my mind. Did you know Gucci Mane recently released a song called “Pussy Print” after his release from jail? I felt personally spoken to.

Lady Skollie’s work will be on show at the Tyburn Gallery booth at 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair 6 – 9 October