Die Antwoord and Roger Ballen are a match made in MTV heaven. The South African music group recently collaborated with the fine art photographer on a music video for its latest song, “I Fink U Freeky.” The result is a creepy, “freeky” montage of black and white film that earned over half a million hits on YouTube in its first 36 hours online.
In a January 29 article for the New York Times Magazine, writer Eve Fairbanks called South Africa’s viral musical export Die Antwoord “mysteriously transfixing.” Representing zef or “common” culture, Die Antwoord channels the “poor but classy” lower-middle class caucasians in South Africa whose experience since the end of apartheid in 1994 has been marginalized.
The photograph of Die Antwoord that accompanied Fairbanks’ article was shot by Roger Ballen, an American-born fine art photographer living in South Africa since 1982. Ballen has long approached unexpected realities with an unflinching and empathetic style, using dark imagery and taking a psychological approach to his craft. In Ballen’s 2005 monograph Shadow Chamber, published by Phaidon, Robert A. Sobieszek writes: Ballen “has transformed [photography] into a vehicle for portraying pluralism, relativism and the mortal struggles of our modern souls.”
Ballen believes his role in the “I Fink U Freeky” video can promote a better understanding of his role as an artist.
“Die Antwoord and I have been trying to find a way to cooperate for many years,” Ballen told the Robert Klein Gallery in a February 2 email. “I was very motivated to be involved in the video because it offered me the opportunity to extend my aesthetic using other medias.” Ballen is currently working on a series about birds in strange, surreal environments; a monograph is set to be published in 2013.
Die Antwoord will perform on The Late Show with David Letterman on Monday, February 6.