‘I am an artist and it has been my privilege to present my work in a range of contexts here in South Africa and internationally,’ says Gabrielle Goliath. ‘I feel blessed to have been selected as the Standard Bank Young Artist for Visual Art in 2019, as well as to have been awarded a Future Generation Art Prize Special Award earlier this year.’
Name three artworks that you love and why.
Yoko Ono’s Cut Piece will always be a seminal performance work for me, and one that speaks to the precarity of feminine bodies and the pervasive, troublingly normative violence they are subject to. In 2007, Doris Salcedo installed Shibboleth at the Tate Modern – it was a 167-metre-long crack in the gallery floor (now sealed up). We all feel this crack, this fissure, as a history of violent inclusion and exclusion, that for Salcedo is the racial narrative of modernity as we have variously experienced it. Hmm, only three? I couldn’t possibly choose between Tracey Rose, Donna Kukama, and Mmakgabo Mapula Helen Sebidi – we have such great women artists in this country…
Name one artist you would love to meet.
What are you reading at the moment?
David’s Story by Zoë Wicomb and Acts of Transgression, which is a compilation of new texts on contemporary live art in South Africa, edited by Catherine Boulle and Jay Pather.
What is in your car’s CD player?
CD Player! I’m having another Prince-fit – crisscrossing Joburg to a flash-back playlist I’ve compiled and call ‘Prince of Purple’. It includes gems like ‘Purple Rain’, ‘Love… Thy Will be Done’ and ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’ (which is absolutely not a Sinéad O’Connor original).
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
The total lack of a sense of humour I sometimes suffer from.
How have the arts industries in South Africa changed over the last ten years?
We have seen a significant and overall positive shift in the representation of black and brown artists in this country – but as collectives like iQhiya have shown us, there is still a lot of work to be done, especially when it comes to opportunity and meaningful support for black, brown, femme and queer artists. This is why I’m starting an alternative art space called fem of colour.
Name one thing you think would improve the arts and culture industry in South Africa.
A tanker-load of money for all the right causes!
What is your most treasured possession?
The love and friendship of those most dear to me.
What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
Whilst my immediate impulse is to come back at you here with a pithy anecdote about bad food or something, I cannot disavow the numerous accounts shared with me by individuals who have had to fight daily, through the misery and traumatic aftermaths of gendered, sexualised and racialised violence.
What is it that makes you happy?
I don’t know that it’s a happiness, but I derive a deep and sustaining joy from those moments of connection – no matter how fleeting – I have in conversation with individuals who are touched by my work, and who, in turn, share their hurts but also their victories with me. A recent conversation with Maneo Mohale and Neo Baepi has encouraged me to appreciate these interactions in a new way.
Describe a defining moment in your life.
Being held by the mother of a childhood friend of mine, Berenice, the morning after she had been killed in an incident of domestic violence. That moment continues to mark, shape, inform, and direct much of what I pursue within my art practice.
What projects will you be busy with during 2019 and into 2020?
I am deep in the throes of preparing for my upcoming exhibition This song is for… – which will be showing at the Standard Bank Gallery in Johannesburg, the Iziko South African National Gallery in Cape Town, and other museums in South Africa over the course of this year and next. I will also be presenting Elegy performances in the Netherlands in October and later in the US as well. Hmm, and then I start lecturing at the Wits School of Art next year – wish me luck!
Name one goal you would like to achieve in the next twelve months.
I am really hoping to press a set of 13 records and a series of texts as an alternative kind of publication for my new body of work, This song is for…
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