Skullboy is the pseudonym of Durban-based artist and designer, Louis De Villiers. His piece You & Me was selected as one of the top 10 works in this years’ Absa L’Aterlier Award. The piece comprises 100 works on 18 cm x 23cm paper and is essentially bold beyond the obvious.
Over a six-month period, Skullboy collected anonymous stories of sexual debut. He placed simple forms that began “I lost my virginity…” together with collection boxes in toilet stalls in various nightclubs and bars around Durban. From the 300+ collected, he then selected 100 to visually represent.
The resultant individual works re-interpret the text confessionals with a visual language that is both humorous and poignant. Sometimes the visual is a literal representation of the text, in others an answer to it. Skullboy’ style is sketchy, informal, and congruously honest. His interpretations neither glorify nor undermine the text, rather adding another layer to it.
“It’s a celebration whether it’s good or bad”
The resultant collection of works that comprises You & Me becomes a kind of confessional wall, capturing a cross-section of the state and practice of sex in our society. In South Africa, there’s a prevalent conservatism that hangs over sex and sexuality like a white wedding veil. We’re prudes, to a large extend. In South Africa, the practice of corrective rape occurs, woman and children are abused, and HIV/AIDS affects millions of people. Surely it’s time to lift this veil and look sex straight in the face, both ugly and beautiful. Sex is all of our concern, as it is (or rather, should be) all of ours to enjoy. This piece therefore, in its attempt to ‘tell it like it is’, becomes a bold statement that transcends beyond the obvious subject matter.
In his artist’s statement, Skullboy says that he wanted to create “a healthy dialogue about sex in reality without the baggage of religion, media, television and moral decorum. Through this communal discussion, we destroy the unrealistic expectations of sex set by society and ourselves and strip such a significant event of any shame, pressure or sense of failure”.
The open ended “I lost my virginity…” opens the space for conversation, which becomes dialogue in the works. The viewer is invited to add their interpretation, adding another layer and voice to the conversation.