Lady Skollie, born Laura Windvogel, is the real deal. An intensely feminist artist, her work explores and confronts issues such as gender, sex, consent and human engagement, to name a few. She has been described as a socially conscious artist, putting each piece of her work out into the world with intent and careful consideration. She boldly and unapologetically uses the platform she has created to defy taboos whether it be on her podcast Kiss and Tell, through her work and even through her social media.
Who or what inspired you to pursue a career in the arts?
My mother, which is probably the first time I have ever answered it as that because I think it’s the first time in a very long time where I can actually acknowledge that. I sometimes used to judge my mother for what I perceived her being quite repressed in certain ways. I think both my sister and I pursued this creative outlet because we, in some roundabout way, think we are delivering our mother. My mom is fine but I think in our minds we think anyone who is less expressive than we are, are somehow repressed.
Why the pseudonym?
I felt like I wanted to reserve my own name for more serious things. I don’t know why that is because under the pseudonym I’ve done serious things, I’ve done less serious things, I’ve done funny things, I’ve done f*cked up things. I guess it is about that fake thing in your mind where you think that giving yourself a pseudonym gives you more freedom in some way whereas you are actually giving the freedom to yourself. It’s just like this funny rule of “oh it’s not in my name”, so I feel more open to doing crazy shit when it’s still you.
There’s sort of an element of safety?
I guess but for me the two parts, the Lady and Skollie is a juxtaposition but it was more because I’ve always had a funny way of relating to gender issues. When I was younger, we all fluctuate, and I know that some things aren’t just seen as feminine and some things aren’t just seen as masculine, but in my mind, when I was a child, I always struggled with those two elements of myself.
There seems to be a very big moment in Cape Town and South African right now within the feminist movement and your art has come out and had a huge response from everyone…
I think I tapped into something just before the tipping point in terms of people being more in touch with their sexuality and more in touch with what they want. My main thing is that I want people to be open about what they want and what they are about. For me, the whole shift of people being open about what they want and how they feel and what they perceive as femininity and masculinity is exciting. I felt like I was waiting for people to catch up to the agenda and that is what is happening now. It’s exciting because we are in the most interesting space for that type of discourse. We have never been allowed to have that discourse without feeling guilty about it or feeling shit about it. It can only mean good things.
Now that we are passed the tipping point, do you feel as though there is a certain pressure because people look up to you in this position? I know you said in an interview that you are almost at the point of having to choose between being an artist and an activist and it’s not fair to have to choose.
It’s not that it is not fair to choose. Once you choose a principled life you can’t go back on it. I used to do a lot of work that was very gratuitous, sexually. I was doing it for the fray and the fizz of it and for the thrill but then I started realising that people actually care about my opinion and they care about what I say and what my perception is. The activism role, I wont say that it was foisted on me, it was because I chose to tackle something close to home when I confronted a well-known local rapper for his nonchalant attitude towards his crime, sexual assault.
I’m very intrigued by people who have an artistic ability. Did you have an ‘aha’ moment growing up when you knew suddenly that you had this ability?
No, I always knew. I never didn’t know. I have never wanted to do anything else. I think my earliest moment of knowing was when I was at Speelkring in Stellenbosch and all the kids would line up so that I could draw legs that were 3D onto the body. I wouldn’t say there was an ‘aha’ moment. I think I was just born. I don’t remember ever wanting to be anything else except the center of attention. For a brief moment I thought I would be an actress but then I realised it’s just because I like being the center of attention. I didn’t just want to paint. I wanted to do a lot of things. I always wanted to be in the center so it was about finding a niche for myself, which to me has been very important. They always call it ‘virgin territory,’ I don’t think there is anyone who tries to operate in the way I do and that is very exciting to me.
A lot of people have described you as being very socially conscious about the work you are putting out there. How do you manage to make sure that everything you are doing stays true to who you are?
It’s always a feeling and it’s also consistency. I tried to dabble in a lot of things early in my career. I would also do art for art-sake and it just didn’t resonate. It’s funny because when you look at your art and you are trying to edit, you know. You can feel it inside and it is a very intuitive thing. If it doesn’t feel right, don’t put it out. I know that sounds very vague but it’s literally how I’ve been guided so far. You know what is right for you and what is authentic for you. You know in your heart. Authenticity is actually not that hard if you just work at it and you are always conscious of it.
What has your experience been like as a woman in the art world?
It’s weird because people always ask me that question. I don’t know if it’s because I really don’t give a f*ck about what other people think of me, but I’ve never had, or maybe I have but I just don’t know, I don’t feel like I’ve ever been discriminated or feel funny about but it’s because my ego is so big and that’s the funny thing. My ego is huge. It protects me from a lot of f*ckery. I think certain things just go over my head. I think in terms of being a woman of colour, definitely there is a difference in the art world and how people relate to you. And of course as a woman as well, I’m not saying that it doesn’t happen just because I don’t feel it. I don’t feel it because I don’t give a f*ck what you think.
I’ve had quite a few conversations with women this week about feminism, because I am on my own journey with defining what feminism means to me…
My sister said it best, because I was very judgmental about certain people and how they related to men and how they were just “pandering to the penis”and my sister was like, that’s the thing that people do wrong all the time, is that they think that feminism isn’t every person’s own journey. My sister really got me into understanding that everyone’s feminist journey is their own. It has to do a lot with how we unlearn our fathers, our brothers, our homies, our boyfriends.
Do you believe that there are various degrees of being a feminist and do you feel that is ok?
Yes. Being in a sexual genre/industry/whatever you want to call it, is actually quite funny to me because I’ve met feminists within the porn industry which feminists outside of the porn industry would not respect. They are doing their own bit for informing and educating women within their own industries in whichever type of feminism they believe in. I think fundamentally we need to stop judging each other’s forms of feminism.I think it is important and it’s necessary for more women to feel included because what is most important is that we stand together.
As more and more publications like this one come out, what do you wish you were asked more?
The poet Koleka Putuma, I love her, she always goes “Can people please stop asking about me struggling?” The struggle is a huge part of our existence but we are not defined by that. I want to be asked different things too. I had an interview recently and it was just the most refreshing interview I’ve ever had in my entire life. They were asking me things like “where are you right now?” “What is the last thing that inspired you?” Things that you would ask a human being.
Who are some South African women in the arts that inspire you?
Special thanks to Laura Windvogel, Hannah Baker and Chanel Katz.
Cover photo by Chanel Katz.
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