SA’s Gabrielle Goliath gets global art prize

Gabrielle Goliath Picture: Standard Bank
Gabrielle Goliath Picture: Standard Bank

South African visual artist Gabrielle Goliath has a won Special Prize in the 2019 Future Generation Art Prize for her work This song is for… and has also bagged $20 000 (about R290 000).

The global art prize, which is in its fifth year, celebrates artists under the age of 35, and the winners were announced by an international jury at an award ceremony in the PinchukArtCentre, Kyiv, Ukraine on March 22. This year’s winner, who is Emilija Škarnulyte from Lithuania, walks away with $100 000 (about R1.4 million) in prize money. 

Goliath, who is a PhD candidate and fellow at the Institute for Creative Arts at the University of Cape Town, has managed to grow her artistic portfolio exponentially over the years. Combining the use of photography, video and live performance in her work, she has become renowned for producing pieces that tackle complex social issues such as domestic and sexual violence. Her 2015 piece, Elegy, was performed at last year’s National Arts Festival in Grahamstown in the Eastern Cape, and has been received with acclaim.

“I think director Gabrielle Goliath might be a genius and this production, albeit more of a social experiment, is one I will remember for a while yet. I leave feeling sad for the people who left but also happy they did,” City Press journalist Phumlani S Langa said of Elegy.

Read: The uncomfortable powerful Elegy tackles sexual violence

The jury said of Goliath’s work: “We admired her handling of such difficult and important subject matter in a touching yet sharp manner in the work This Song is For…. It speaks directly and emotionally to the viewer while generating a powerful sense of discomfort. The work leaves room for personal reflection and maintains respect for the six individual testimonies.”

Goliath is also the recipient of the prestigious 2019 Standard Bank Young Artist award for visual arts.


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