AiW Guest: Sana Goyal
Whet your appetite in advance of your visit to Lady Skollie’s Lust Politics at London’s Tyburn Gallery, where the South African artist serves up a platter of playful, pleasurable, and provocative fruits that are likely to leave a pungent sensation in your gut.
(Hover over the images to view the captions and details. All images courtesy Tyburn Gallery).
Born in Cape Town, and as Laura Windvogel, the Johannesburg-based artist takes the historical moniker, ‘Skollie’—a term used to describe a suspicious person of colour, as presumed by the white populace—and turns it on its head. Once a marker of oppression, it now signifies street cred, and Lady Skollie appropriates it to her own advantage: “You feel like you can take more risks under a pseudonym…there is a psychology behind aliases, a kind of strength that they give you,” she says. This subversion of stereotypes starts from her adoptive name, and remains relentless in her art.
In her latest work, the multimedia paintings (composed of ink, watercolour, and crayon) are lustful in their embodiment, and leaking from the edges of the canvas—luring the viewer in, one delectable vice at a time. But the sweet sensuality of colour that cuts through the canvas soon ripens into a bitter confrontation: the seeds of the symbolic fruit are nestled in unrealistic notions of sexual and romantic relations between men and women, as understood in South Africa. What the viewer consumes are issues of consent, attraction and abuse, (dirty) desire, violence—all with the sticky syrup of sexualised female bodies, seen in the colonial context. (She pays a paintbrush tribute to the Khoisan people, whom she descends from.)
“Art is about confronting, and making people—including yourself—feel uncomfortable. Art as social commentary, art as political commentary, it’s all important in the quest to evoke rage,” she says. And she is angry about a lot of things—“mostly pertaining to existing on this planet as a woman”. Lady Skollie’s artistic appetite is not easily satiated; it is not art for art’s sake only. And Lust Politics leaves you hungry for her brand of bold activism.
Lady Skollie’s Lust Politics is on view at London’s Tyburn Gallery until 4 March 2017.
Sana Goyal is a doctoral student at SOAS, London, where she researches literary prize cultures in the context of select 21st century women writers of the African diaspora. She’s also a freelance books writer for Vogue India, and Mint Lounge.