'This book is dedicated to those who live on the edge, who stare into the abyss, who find light in darkness,' reads the dedication to a disturbing yet strangely spellbinding new book of photographs by Roger Ballen. The subjects, Ninja and Yolandi of Die Antwoord, tell us how it happened
'When we saw Roger Ballen's photographs for the first time it was like being punched in the face. We were like, "Who are these people?" "Where do they live?" and, "Jesus! Who the hell took these pictures?" When we found out they were taken by a photographer called Roger Ballen in South Africa, we couldn't believe it! We had never seen photographs that made us feel such violent excitement, and the fact that these were "Made in South Africa" was just the best thing in the world!
This was the first time we saw South African art that slammed so f*** in' hard and dark. The two of us have never been able to fit into South African culture. So we related heavily to the strange, alienated people in Ballen's photographs, living on the fringe of society.
The way Ballen presented these people inside this dark, spooky, comic-book world was just the illest s*** we had ever seen. So fascinating, so disturbing, so unf***ingbelievably fresh! These photographs ... were like surreal artworks in the same league as Dalí, Hieronymus Bosch and Lucian Freud.
All the music and imagery we had been working on seemed f***in' wack in comparison. We also wanted to make heavyweight punch-you-in-the-face art like this. So we threw all the music we had been working on away and started from scratch.
The retarded graffiti in Ballen's photographs looked like it was made by children, mental people or criminals. This raw, demented graffiti had a huge influence on us. [It] ripped open the filters that protected our conscious thoughts from our animal-like subconscious.
We both underwent dark and dangerous transformations as we dove deep into the primal regions of our minds. Instead of trying to work out how to fit into society, we decided to make our own breed of f***-you music.
Yolandi made contact with Ballen in 2006 shortly after discovering his work. Two years later we created our first photograph with him called $O$, which was also the name of Die Antwoord's first album. Six years after meeting Ballen we made our first music video together, I Fink U Freeky, and our relationship came full circle.
The images in this book flowed directly out of this dark collaboration. Ninja and Yolandi are kinda like Ballen's little punk protégés, and it would be accurate to say that he accidentally spawned Die Antwoord."
- Text and photographs ©Die Antwoord: I Fink You Freeky, by Roger Ballen, published by Prestel, distributed by Jacana Media (R450).