The Centre was honoured to host this powerful performance piece by Gabrielle Goliath as part of its FOR ONCE programme
Eunice Ntombifuthi Ndube
Initiated in 2015, Elegy is a long-term commemorative performance project. 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 LGBTQI+ 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.
Photographer | Stella Olivier