SA artist takes on Die Antwoord
THE teaser trailer for Die Antwoord’s new album Ten$ion has been pulled from the internet amid copyright concerns by Jane Alexander, the acclaimed South African resistance artist who sculpted The Butcher Boys.
Alexander has appointed a firm of lawyers to protect the rights to her Butcher Boys sculpture, an iconic artwork showing the dehumanising effects of apartheid.
Now housed in the Iziko South African Museum, it depicts three lifesize human-like beasts, with powdery skin, black eyes and horns, seated on a wooden bench.
The short video was released about three weeks ago to promote the zef rappers’ new album Ten$ion, which was released a week ago.
The video features Die Antwoord’s Yo-Landi Vi$$er and Sixteen, her seven-year-old daughter with bandmate Ninja, as goblin-like creatures.
The Cape Times has not been able to view the video.
Pictures show the two dressed in white, covered in pale make-up and with elf-like ears and horns.
Vi$$er can be seen clutching what appears to be a human heart.
A number of articles which describe the video have mentioned that it seemed to reference Alexander’s artwork.
The video is no longer available on YouTube.
Clicking on its link directs users to a page which says: “This video is no longer available due to a copyright claim by Jane Alexander.”
Alexander’s lawyer Martin Heller said that the sculpture was used in the video without Alexander’s consent.
He said a substantial part of the video showed “an animated figure identical with the sculpture’s outer left figure”.
“Ms Alexander does not intend to limit her work’s interpretation, and she does not seek to interfere with other artists’ work.
“In this case, however, Ms Alexander is concerned that Die Antwoord’s use of her work and its context might be publicly perceived as reflecting her own artistic intention. In creating the work, Ms Alexander referred to the dehumanising forces of apartheid.”
Heller said that he had taken the necessary steps to stop the video’s distribution.
“Die Antwoord has acknowledged Ms Alexander’s concerns. We are in contact with Die Antwoord’s attorneys about a settling agreement.”
The sculpture was created by Alexander in 1985-86. The beasts do not have their outside senses – their ears are deep gouges in their heads and their mouths are closed, covered with thick skin.
A Wikipedia entry describes the sculptures as: “The artwork represents the brutal dehumanising forces of the apartheid in South Africa.
“The animal parts show how people stripped themselves of their humanity and put themselves above others, thinking they were better. The sculpture means it is and should only be animals that would be so cruel to each other and not humans.”
Alexander declined to comment to the Cape Times but passed along her lawyer’s contact details. She would not allow the Cape Times to photograph the artwork.
Die Antwoord, now touring in the US, had not responded to requests for comment at the time of going to press.