Goodman Gallery Cape Town
15 – 24 October 2015
The performance piece that is Elegy epitomizes the deeply poetic work of Gabrielle Goliath, whose practice has over a number of years addressed situations of violence perpetrated against women. The South African-born artist is becoming known for her evocative political installations and performances.
Originating in lengthy research processes, Goliath’s photographs, installations, and performances critically negotiate the complexities of gender-based violence in South Africa. Her style has a poetic quality, punctuated by unsettling visceral elements. Rather than sensationalising the violence itself, her concern is primarily with memorializing the individuals victimised by acts of brutal and sexualised violence. This she accomplishes with powerful metaphors for essentially inexpressible experiences, evoking in a confluence of forms a sense of loss and horror.
A commemorative gesture, Elegy calls together a group of female vocal performers, who collectively enact a ritual of mourning. Durational and physically taxing, the performance sustains a kind of sung cry – evoking, in a symbolic sense, the ‘presence’ of an absent individual. Responding to situations of extreme violence perpetrated against women in South Africa, Elegy recalls the identity of individuals whose subjectivities have been fundamentally violated – and who, as such, are all too easily consigned to a generic, all-encompassing victimhood.
Nineteen years old and studying toward a degree in journalism at the Midrand Graduate Institute, Ipeleng Christine Moholane was first reported missing on May 16th, 2015. On May 25th she was found murdered, lying in an open veld in Tembisa. Identifying the body, her father Isaac Moholane recalls: “I can’t tell you the pain and grief it brought me to see her lifeless body in that manner. She was naked, raped, legs bound… Someone had strangled her so brutally with the intention to make sure she died”.
Enacted in commemoration of Ipeleng, Elegy performances will be scheduled throughout the week of the 15th – 24th October 2015, at Goodman Gallery Cape Town. Between performances the space will function as an installation, with an accompanying video projection. Intended as an ongoing performance project, future iterations of Elegy will be staged in various locations and contexts – with each realised in memory of a specific individual.
Goliath has an MAFA and BAFA from the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. She has held four solo exhibitions in Johannesburg, at the Goodman Gallery, Nirox at Arts on Main, Circa and Gallery Momo. She has exhibited extensively on local group exhibitions, including “Alterating Conditions: performing performance art in South Africa” at Goethe on Main & the Bag Factory, “Transformations: Women’s Art from the late 19 Century” at the Johannesburg Art Gallery and “Space” at Museum Africa. Internationally, her work has featured on the Dak’Art Biennale, “Photoville”, the Tierney Fellowship Exhibit in New York in 2012, “Between the Lines” at the Former Tagesspiegel Building in Berlin in 2013, and most recently at the Jewish Museum in New York. She is a recipient of the Tierney Fellowship Award, the Brait Everard Read Award 2007 and the Wits Martienssen Prize. Her work is represented in the collections of the Iziko South African National Gallery and the Johannesburg Art Gallery, as well as in various academic, private and corporate collections.
Gabrielle Goliath situates her practice within contexts marked by the traces, disparities and as-of-yet unreconciled traumas of colonialism and apartheid, as well as socially entrenched structures of patriarchal power and rape-culture. Enabling opportunities for affective, relational encounters, she seeks to resist the violence through which black, brown, feminine, queer and vulnerable bodies are routinely fixed through forms of representation.
Goliath has exhibited widely, most recently in the Future Generation Art Prize, Pinchuk Art Centre, Kiev; Conversations in Gondwana, São Paulo Cultural Center, São Paulo; Kubatana – An Exhibition with Contemporary African Artists, Vestfossen Kunstlaboratorium, Norway; Verbo Performance Art Festival, São Paulo, and the Palais de Tokyo’s Do Disturb Festival, Paris. She has won a number of awards including a Future Generation Art Prize/Special Prize (2019), the prestigious Standard Bank Young Artist Award (2019), as well as the Institut Français, Afrique en Créations Prize at the Bamako Biennale (2017). Her work features in numerous public and private collections, including the Tate Modern, the Iziko South African National Gallery, Johannesburg Art Gallery, and the Wits Art Museum. Goliath is currently a Ph.D. candidate with the Institute for Creative Arts at the University of Cape Town, South Africa.