Gabrielle Goliath (excerpts from Bouquet I, II, III and BERNICE)

I am a strong proponent for art that reveals the most vulnerable within the artist’s character or that directly attempts to unveil the most vulnerable in others. This is brave art. This art exposes fallibility and humanity, which at it’s best and worst is never righteously at peace but is always seated with troubled remnants from life and ones own tendencies through that life.

South African multi media artist and photographer Gabrielle Goliath addresses issues of violence in much of her work, and vulnerability in relation to violence. The use of violence is an act that finds vulnerability through force. This action of force/violence does not allow vulnerability to remain as it is but instead transforms it into a heavy shame inset with panic. Goliath effectively transforms that re-imagined sense of violence into memorial and rememberance of experience.

As an artist it is a vulnerable act to reveal ones seemingly strong connection to the manner in which the mark of violence can be internalized and projected. I very much see Gabrielle’s work as an offering to all who experience violence, as a reflection and as memorial.

Below are two works with a brief description taken from the artists website. Links to each complete artist statement are found within text:

Bouquet I, II and III  — excerpt from artist statement.

“As a body, Bouquet deals primarily with the notions of abuse and innocence, and their relation to one another. Any victim of abuse is in a sense ‘canonised’ in that brutal moment – made innocent on account of the unfair actions taken against them. This is a theme explored in all three of the works, Bouquet I, II & III. The use of flowers at times indigenous, at times alien is significant in this sense, being in general synonymous with suffering, sympathy, and even romance [which is sadly ironic in that many cases of abuse are domestic.]. Flowers in the context of Bouquet I & III are emblematic; of screaming, vomiting, a silent but aggressive personal dialogue……”

Bouquet III, 2007

Bouquet I, 2007

 BERNICE  — excerpt from artist statement.

“The year is 1991. On the eve of Christmas a girl of nine is shot dead in a domestic accident.

Violence has been a preoccupation of mine for some time now – be it the violence of abuse or that of violent crime; rape, murder… My interest in BERENICE however is not in the moment, the violent act, but in the effect, the wake, the social impression.

A loss of life had occurred, an irredeemable loss. A life brought to a swift halt by the indelible mark of violence.

As a body, BERENICE comprises of 3 parts:

BERENICE 10-28, Missing Persons and Last Seen…….”

“19 disarming photographic portraits of girls, each one a potential representation of Berenice – a substitute of sorts. There is a clone-like duplicate quality to the portraits; the same white vest, the same blank background. The use of black and white highlights the documentary nature of the imagery [being as they are records of a life unlived]. The portraits are encased by an official/clinical red border with the title at the bottom reading ‘BERENICE’, and the appropriate number: 10-28. Further emphasising the surrogate nature of the protraits. The images are titled from 10-28, each representing a year unlived i.e. a portrait for every year from the year after her death to the present…..”

Bernice 10 - 28, 2010


About erin bosenberg
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