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Butcher Boys, 1985-86
Mixed Media (plaster, paint, bone, horns, wooden bench)
128,5 x 213,5 x 88,5 cm
South African National Gallery, Cape Town
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The Butcher Boys

The Butcher Boys (1985/86) is a plaster sculpture by South African artist Jane Alexander. The work consists of three lifesize humanoid beasts with powdery skin, black eyes, broken horns, and no mouths sitting on a bench. The beasts are devoid of their outside senses - their ears are nothing more than deep gorges in their heads and their mouths are missing, appearing to be covered with thick roughened skin. The artwork represents the brutal dehumanizing forces of 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.

In February 2012, South African band Die Antwoord released an online teaser trailer for their album Ten$Ion which referenced the sculpture without Alexander's consent. In the video, band members Yolandi Visser and Ninja, along with their daughter Sixteen, appear in powdery white makeup. Yolandi and Ninja wear black contact lenses, and Ninja also wears ram horns on his head. The artist's lawyer, Martin Heller, stated: "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 dehumanizing forces of apartheid. Ms. Alexander does not intend to limit her work's interpretation, and she does not seek to interfere with other artists' work." The video has since been removed from distribution.