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Goodman Gallery is one of the most distinguished and longest-standing international contemporary art galleries. Established in Johannesburg in 1966, the gallery works with artists who are at once contemporary, influential and strive to shift perspectives and engender social transformation.
Founded during the era of apartheid, Goodman Gallery offered a non-discriminatory space when museums served the agenda of the autocratic government. Since 2008, under the directorship of Liza Essers, Goodman Gallery has expanded on this legacy, shifted its focus, and introduced numerous pivotal curatorial initiatives and partnerships.
Love Story – a seven-channel installation by Candice Breitz – interrogates the mechanics of identification and the conditions under which empathy is produced, prompting viewers to consider: Why is it that the same
audiences that are driven to tears by fictional blockbusters, remain affectless in the face of actual human suffering?
The work is based on the personal narratives of six individuals who have fled their countries in response to a range of oppressive conditions: Sarah Ezzat Mardini, who escaped war-torn Syria, José Maria João, a former child soldier from Angola; Mamy Maloba Langa, a survivor from the Democratic Republic of the Congo; Shabeena Saveri, an Indian transgender activist; Luis Nava, a political dissident from Venezuela; and Farah Abdi Mohamed, a young atheist from Somalia. The interviews were conducted in the cities where each individual is seeking or has been granted asylum (two in Berlin, two in New York and two in Cape Town).
In the first space of the installation, re-performed fragments from the six interviews are woven into a fast-paced montage featuring Hollywood actors Alec Baldwin and Julianne Moore (cast here as themselves: ‘an actor’ and ‘an actress’). Each was asked to channel excerpts from three of the first-person narratives on a green-screen set, without the support of fictional backdrops, costumes, props, accents or interlocutors. Breitz’s edit intertwines the six renditions, plotting the diverse socio-political circumstances and personal experiences that prompted the interviewees to leave their countries. In a second space that is accessible only via the first, the original interviews are projected in their full duration and complexity.Suspending viewers between the gritty firsthand accounts of people who would typically remain nameless and faceless in the media, and an accessible drama featuring two actors who are the very embodiment of visibility, Love Story reflects on the callousness of a media-saturated culture in which identification with fictional characters and celebrity figures runs parallel to widespread indifference to the plight of those facing real world adversity.
Breitz (b. Johannesburg, 1972) is a Berlin-based artist whose moving image installations have been shown internationally. Throughout her career, she has explored the dynamics by means of which an individual becomes him or herself in relation to a larger community, be that the immediate community that one encounters in family, or the real and imagined communities that are shaped not only by questions of national belonging, race, gender and religion, but also by the increasingly undeniable influence of mainstream media such as television, cinema and other popular culture.
Love Story (2016) was commissioned by the National Gallery of Victoria(Melbourne), Outset Germany (Berlin) + Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg.
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