Goodman Gallery Johannesburg
3 February – 9 March 2018
Love Story – a seven-channel installation by Candice Breitz – interrogates the mechanics of identification and the conditions under which empathy is produced, prompting viewers to consider: Why is it that the same audiences that are driven to tears by fictional blockbusters, remain affectless in the face of actual human suffering?
The work is based on the personal narratives of six individuals who have fled their countries in response to a range of oppressive conditions: Sarah Ezzat Mardini, who escaped war-torn Syria, José Maria João, a former child soldier from Angola; Mamy Maloba Langa, a survivor from the Democratic Republic of the Congo; Shabeena Saveri, an Indian transgender activist; Luis Nava, a political dissident from Venezuela; and Farah Abdi Mohamed, a young atheist from Somalia. The interviews were conducted in the cities where each individual is seeking or has been granted asylum (two in Berlin, two in New York and two in Cape Town).
In the first space of the installation, re-performed fragments from the six interviews are woven into a fast-paced montage featuring Hollywood actors Alec Baldwin and Julianne Moore (cast here as themselves: ‘an actor’ and ‘an actress’). Each was asked to channel excerpts from three of the first-person narratives on a green-screen set, without the support of fictional backdrops, costumes, props, accents or interlocutors. Breitz’s edit intertwines the six renditions, plotting the diverse socio-political circumstances and personal experiences that prompted the interviewees to leave their countries. In a second space that is accessible only via the first, the original interviews are projected in their full duration and complexity.
Suspending viewers between the gritty firsthand accounts of people who would typically remain nameless and faceless in the media, and an accessible drama featuring two actors who are the very embodiment of visibility, Love Story reflects on the callousness of a media-saturated culture in which identification with fictional characters and celebrity figures runs parallel to widespread indifference to the plight of those facing real world adversity.
Breitz (b. Johannesburg, 1972) is a Berlin-based artist whose moving image installations have been shown internationally. Throughout her career, she has explored the dynamics by means of which an individual becomes him or herself in relation to a larger community, be that the immediate community that one encounters in family, or the real and imagined communities that are shaped not only by questions of national belonging, race, gender and religion, but also by the increasingly undeniable influence of mainstream media such as television, cinema and other popular culture.
Major moments for Breitz in 2017 included the Venice Biennale, for which she was one of two artists selected to represent South Africa (alongside Mohau Modisakeng); the inclusion of a new commission titled I’m Your Man (A Portrait of Leonard Cohen) in an exhibition titled Leonard Cohen: A Crack in Everything at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal; and the premiere of a major new video work, TLDR (this 13-channel video installation is the sequel to Love Story), at the B3 Biennial of the Moving Image in Frankfurt.
Breitz has had solo exhibitions around the world and has participated in several biennales, including in Johannesburg (1997), São Paulo (1998), New Orleans (2008) and Dakar (2014). Her work has been featured at the Sundance Film Festival (New Frontier_, 2009) and the Toronto International Film Festival (_David Cronenberg: Transformation, 2013) and has been acquired by the Museum of Modern Art and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the National Gallery of Victoria (Melbourne), MAXXI / Museo nazionale delle arti del XXI secolo (Rome), and FNAC / Fonds national d’art contemporain (France), among others.
Love Story (2016) was commissioned by the National Gallery of Victoria (Melbourne), Outset Germany (Berlin) + Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg.
Love Story, 2016
Featuring Alec Baldwin and Julianne Moore
Based on and including interviews with: Shabeena Francis Saveri
(03:38:49), Mamy Maloba Langa (04:15:35), Sarah Ezzat Mardini (02:47:52), Farah Abdi Mohamed (03:32:19), José Maria João (03:27:57) and Luis Ernesto Nava Molero (03:49:58)
7-Channel Installation: 7 Hard Drives
Duration: 73 minutes, 42 seconds, loop
Candice Breitz (b. 1972, Johannesburg, South Africa) is an artist whose moving image installations have been shown internationally. Throughout her career, Breitz has explored the dynamics by means of which an individual becomes him or herself in relation to a larger community, be that community the immediate community that one encounters in family, or the real and imagined communities that are shaped not only by questions of national belonging, race, gender and religion but also by the increasingly undeniable influence of mainstream media such as television, cinema and popular culture. Most recently, Breitz’s work has focused on the conditions under which empathy is produced, reflecting on a media-saturated global culture in which strong identification with fictional characters and celebrity figures runs parallel to widespread indifference to the plight of those facing real-world adversity.
Solo exhibitions of Breitz’s work have been hosted by the Kunstmuseum Bonn (Germany), Kunstmuseum Stuttgart, National Gallery of Canada (Ottawa), San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Kunsthaus Bregenz, Palais de Tokyo (Paris), The Power Plant (Toronto), Louisiana Museum of Modern Art (Humlebæk), Modern Art Oxford, De Appel Foundation (Amsterdam), Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art (Gateshead), MUDAM / Musée d’Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean (Luxembourg), Moderna Museet (Stockholm), Castello di Rivoli (Turin), Pinchuk Art Centre (Kyiv), Centre d’Art Contemporain Genève, Bawag Foundation (Vienna), Temporäre Kunsthalle Berlin, White Cube (London), MUSAC / Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Castilla y León (Spain), Wexner Center for the Arts (Ohio), O.K Center for Contemporary Art Upper Austria (Linz), ACMI / The Australian Centre for the Moving Image (Melbourne), Collection Lambert en Avignon, FACT / Foundation for Art & Creative Technology (Liverpool), Blaffer Art Museum (Houston) and the South African National Gallery (Cape Town).
Selected group exhibitions include South Africa: the art of a nation (British Museum, London, 2016), Laughing in a Foreign Language (The Hayward, London, 2008), The Cinema Effect (Hirshhorn Museum + Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C., 2008), Made in Germany (Kunstverein Hannover, 2007), Superstars (Kunsthalle Wien, 2005), CUT: Film as Found Object (Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami, 2004), Continuity + Transgression (National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, 2002), Thank You for the Music (Kiasma Museum of Modern Art, Helsinki, 2012), Rollenbilder – Rollenspiele (Museum der Moderne Salzburg, 2011), Performa (New York, 2009), Contemporary Outlook: Seeing Songs (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 2009), Remix: Contemporary Art and Pop (Tate Liverpool, 2002) and Looking at You (Museum Fridericianum, Kassel, 2001).
Breitz has participated in biennales in Johannesburg (1997), São Paulo (1998), Istanbul (1999), Taipei (2000), Kwangju (2000), Tirana (2001), Venice (2005, 2017), New Orleans (2008), Göteborg (2003 + 2009), Singapore (2011) and Dakar (2014). Her work has been featured at the Sundance Film Festival (New Frontier, 2009) and the Toronto International Film Festival (David Cronenberg: Transformation, 2013).
Her work has been acquired by museums including the Museum of Modern Art,the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Jewish Museum (in New York), Louisiana Museum of Modern Art (Humlebæk), San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the National Gallery of Canada (Ottawa), Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus (Munich), Art Gallery of Ontario (Toronto), FNAC / Fonds national d’art contemporain (France), Castello di Rivoli (Turin), Hamburger Kunsthalle (Hamburg), M+ / Museum of Visual Culture (Hong Kong), Milwaukee Art Museum, Kunstmuseum St. Gallen, MUDAM / Musée d’Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean (Luxembourg), MUSAC / Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Castilla y León (León, Spain), Kunstmuseum Lichtenstein (Vaduz), MONA / Museum of Old and New Art (Tasmania), QAG GOMA / Queensland Art Gallery (Brisbane), Museum of Fine Arts (Boston) and MAXXI / Museo nazionale delle arti del XXI secolo (Rome).
Breitz holds degrees from the University of the Witwatersrand (Johannesburg), the University of Chicago and Columbia University (NYC). She has participated in the Whitney Museum’s Independent Studio Program and led the Palais de Tokyo’s Le Pavillon residency as a visiting artist during the year 2005-2006. She has been a tenured professor at the Hochschule für Bildende Künste in Braunschweig since 2007.
Candice Breitz lives and works between Cape Town, South Africa and Berlin, Germany.