This Song Is For…

South African multimedia artist, gender advocate and now 2019’s Standard Bank Young Artist award winner for visual art, Gabrielle Goliath (b.1983), brings her new work, This song is for… to Johannesburg this month. Following its successful run at the Makhanda National Arts Festival, the work moves to the Standard Bank Art Gallery, where it will be presented as an immersive audio and visual installation.

Leading local musicians like Nonku Phiri, Desire Marea, Msaki, Gabi Motuba, Dope Saint Jude, BŪJIN and Jacobi de Villiers are featured – presenting new renditions of such well-known songs as Bohemian Rhapsody, Ave Maria and Save the Hero, to name a few.

During the course of each song, a sonic disruption is introduced; a recurring musical rupture recalling the ‘broken record’ effect of a scratched vinyl LP. Presented in this performed disruption is an opportunity for listeners to imaginatively inhabit a contested space of traumatic recall – one in which the de-subjectifying violence of rape and its psychic afterlives become painfully entangled with personal and political claims to life, dignity, hope, faith, even joy.

Speaking to the work, Goliath reflects, “In a work like This song is for… I am seeking to resist the violence through which black, brown, feminine, queer and vulnerable bodies are routinely objectified, in the ways they are imaged, written about, spoken about…what I have in mind is a more empathic interaction.”

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. 

This Song is for…opens at the Standard Bank Gallery on the 26th of July, and will include a programme of live performances.

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