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This song is for…

opens at the Iziko South African National Gallery

Gabrielle Goliath’s sound installation, This song is for… gives song to the lived experiences of rape survivors

Media images and interview requests, please contact:

Zikhona Jafta on 021 481 3838 or at

Opens Friday, 25 October 2019

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


“Gabrielle Goliath has become known for sensitively negotiating complex social concerns in her work, specifically relating to both gendered and sexualised violence. In today’s climate, it is important that work like Goliath’s is displayed in public institutions – such as the Iziko South African National Gallery – to take a stance against the normalised nature of violence in South Africa; to call for dialogue and action; and to conscientise audiences to the lived experiences of survivors of all forms of abuse,” says Ms Rooksana Omar, CEO, Iziko Museums of South Africa.

On entering the exhibition space, audiences are confronted by a unique collection of dedication songs – playing sequentially, and each one chosen by a survivor of rape. These are songs of personal significance to the survivors – songs that take them back to a particular time and place, evoking a sensory world of memory and feeling. As collaborators on the project, the survivors shared not only their songs, but also a colour of their choosing and a written reflection. The artist then worked in close collaboration with a group of women and gender-queer led musical ensembles to reinterpret and re-perform the songs.


Leading local musicians such as Nonku Phiri, Desire Marea, Msaki, Gabi Motuba, Dope Saint Jude, BŪJIN and Jocobi de Villiers are featured – presenting new renditions of such well-known songs like 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.

“When language fails us, when conventional therapy fails us, art allows for a different kind of encounter, a more human encounter perhaps. One in which the differences that mark our experiences of the world become the grounds for our mutual acknowledgement and care,” concludes Goliath.


On Saturday, 26 October 2019 from 11h00 until 13h00, the Iziko South African National Gallery will be hosting a walkabout of This song is for… with Gabrielle Goliath, followed by a panel discussion. RSVP to Shameem Adams at to reserve your spot.


Issued by: Ellen Agnew
Communications Coordinator: Iziko Museums of South Africa
Telephone: 021 481 3830 Email:
Issued on behalf of the Office of the CEO, Iziko Museums of South Africa


About Gabrielle Goliath

As an artist, Gabrielle Goliath is deeply concerned with questions of violence, and the precarity of black, brown, feminine and queer bodies. She has exhibited her work across South Africa and internationally. Recent exhibitions include Kubatana – and Exhibition with Contemporary African Artists, Norway; The Future Generation Art Prize in Venice and Kiev; Conversations in Gondwana, São Paulo; the Palais de Tokyo’s Do Disturb Festival, Paris; and the Verbo Performance Art Festival in São Paulo. In 2019, she was announced as the Standard Bank Young Artist of the Year, and was also granted a Special Award at the prestigious Future Generation Art Prize. Although based in Johannesburg, Goliath is currently a PhD candidate at Live, Interdisciplinary and Public Art at the Institute for Creative Arts (ICA), University of Cape Town (UCT).

About Standard Bank Arts

The arts in Africa are a powerful expression of our creativity and play an integral part in generating a positive narrative with a global impact. It is upon this narrative that Standard Bank has established its mandate – supporting a wide range of initiatives to both nurture young talent and showcase the rich diversity of our creative arts. Standard Bank’s commitment to investing across the arts spectrum on the continent represents a 31-year legacy and the company is proud to provide ongoing support for a variety of key projects, which have evolved into highlights across the South African and African cultural calendar. 


About Iziko Museums of South Africa (Iziko)

Iziko operates 11 national museums, the Planetarium and Digital Dome, the Social History Centre and three collection‑specific libraries in Cape Town.  The museums that make up Iziko have their own history and character, presenting extensive art, social and natural history collections that reflect our diverse African heritage.  Iziko is a public entity and public benefit organisation that brings together these museums under a single governance and leadership structure.  The organisation allows *free access to all individuals on commemorative days, (*excluding the Castle of Good Hope, Groot Constantia and Planetarium and Digital Dome). Visit our webpage at, join our online community on Facebook (, Instagram (@izikomuseumssa) or follow us on Twitter (@Iziko_Museums) for regular updates on events, news and new exhibitions.

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