ELEGY is an ongoing series of commemorative performances initiated by Goliath in 2015. Staged in various locations and contexts, each performance 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 the presence of an absent individual. Responding to the physical, ontological and structural outworkings of rape-culture in South Africa, ELEGY performances recall the identity of individuals whose subjectivities have been fundamentally violated – and who are, as such, all too easily consigned to a generic, all-encompassing victimhood. With each performance commemorating a specific woman or trans or non-binary individual raped and killed in South Africa, significant to the work is how loss becomes a site for community, and for empathic, cross-cultural and cross-national encounters. Seeking to work around the kinds of symbolic violence through which traumatised black bodies are routinely objectified, ELEGY performances open a distinctly decolonial and intersectional space, wherein mourning is presented as a social and productive work – not in the sense of healing or ‘closure’, but as a necessary and sustained irresolution.
On the evenings of the 4th and 5th of November, Goliath is presenting two intimately related ELEGY performances, commemorating the lives of Hannah Cornelius and Camron Britz respectively.
By Gabrielle Goliath With Solomía Antonyak, Natalya Boeva, Mirranda Khayakazi Madlala, Vero Miller, S'Bongile Mntambo, Sibongile Mthiyane, Lithography Nqai,
Gabrielle Goliath is a multidisciplinary artist known for her conceptually distilled and sensitive negotiations of complex social concerns, particularly in relation to situations of gendered and sexualised violence. She is currently working on a number of long-term performance projects, including her Elegy series, initiated in 2015. Elegy performances have been staged throughout South Africa and internationally, with each iteration marking the absent presence of a specific woman, trans or non-binary individual raped and killed in South Africa. Based in Johannesburg, Goliath is currently a Ph.D. candidate at the Institute for Creative Arts (University of Cape Town), and holds a Master’s degree in Fine Art, University of the Witwatersrand (with distinction). Drawing on music’s capacity to both commemorate and evoke nostalgic memory, her current research aims to explore the possibilities and ethical demands of ‘performing’ and making ‘shareable’ traumatic recall, specifically the lived and perpetually relived trauma of rape survivors in South Africa. As an artist, she has exhibited widely, and was recently selected to participate in the 11th Bamako Encounters Biennale (2017), Mali. Her work features in numerous public and private collections, including the Iziko South African National Gallery, Johannesburg Art Gallery and Wits Art Museum.
Production and realization
Funded by the Fonds TURN of the German Federal Cultural Foundation and by Goethe-Institut.