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An interview with Johannesburg-based South African artist Laura Windvogen – Lady Skollie – discussing the political and unifying aspects of lust, gender, and honesty.
The bright colours and playful use of fruit in Lady Skollie’s paintings are only a glimpse into her bold and unapologetic nature. She explores the intersection of gender, culture, and sexuality through both her art and her voice. Fierce and outspoken, her defiant approach towards gender politics often seeps through her tweets; her online presence is as raw as her art. Having a digital, accessible voice allows Lady Skollie to openly unravel the complexities of human sexuality – its pain, pleasure, and politics.
It goes without saying that the world often silences women who express femininity that’s outside its norm. You definitely defy its efforts. By doing so, are there any obstacles or closed doors you’ve had to overcome, particularly in South Africa?
Mostly just galleries not willing to take a financial risk in signing me; but I also think that that is telling on South Africa’s stance on sex: it’s a risky business.
You’ve made a career out of raw expression and female sexuality. Why do you think it’s important for women to express or be open about their sexuality?
I think it’s important to explore your sexual identity; think about what turns you on and what turns you off. I don’t think you need to ‘express’ it every chance you get, especially if it’s just for male validation. I think what is more important is to engage with other women about issues; communication is key to a united front, and we need one.
You use fruit to symbolise genitalia in your Lust Politics exhibition – and your intention in doing so is very clear. The juxtaposition between the papaya fruit and banana alludes to gender politics. What is it about gender that inspires you to emphasise it in your work?
The games we play: pawpaws vs penis – I mean banana! War Games, but with manners. It’s hilarious. I think the gender and relationship dynamics is what gets me every time. The subtleties of manipulation – emotional, sexual or otherwise.
By ‘war games’ do you mean the battle of the sexes?
I mean battle of the sexes or battle of sex, however you want to interpret it.
You’re wonderfully unapologetic online, in podcasts and on Twitter. Living one’s absolute truth isn’t easily accomplished for many. What is the one consistent thing that helped you get to this level of honesty?
Not being ashamed by anything. And loving shock factor.
You reference the Khoisan tribe in some of your pieces for this collection. Do you think heritage and culture plays a part in female sexuality?
Not in some; in ALL. Of course culture and heritage and RELIGION – you left out religion – definitely influence female sexuality, usually negatively. It validates the sexual experience of men but not that of women, we are taught to not really like anything specific, sexual enjoyment always relates back to the darkness, the woefully wrong. I’d like to change that with dialogue.
Lust Politics,Lady Skollie’s first solo exhibition in the UK, is at Tyburn Gallery, in central London, until the 4th of March.