Seven channel HD video with sound and colour
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 subjected to fatal acts of gendered and sexualised violence, 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 and brown bodies are routinely objectified, Elegy performances open an alternative intersectional space, wherein mourning is presented as a social and politically productive work – not in the sense of healing or ‘closure’, but as a necessary and sustained irresolution. Elegy is also shown as a multi-channel video and sound installation. In this immersive context, up to nine documented performances play in chorus.