Stumbling Block

Gabrielle Goliath
Stumbling Block, 2011
performance (documentation: time-lapse photography)

Recalling the sleeping form of a homeless person, a huddled and blanketed body lies on cardboard boxes, partially blocking the entrance to a gallery, museum or other cultural space. Forced to negotiate the shrouded human form, access is complicated for those wishing to enter or exit the space, the privileged remove of which is thrown into question. Significant here is the idea of how the hyper-visibility of marginalised and ‘unseen’ bodies is negotiated (or negated). Made apparent also, and performed, is the problematic relation of art to its market, in the symbolic inclusion of a body ordinarily excluded from such an economy. This is a work that demands response – as those encountering it must decide whether to skirt or step-over the blanketed form. Sometimes the body is kicked, sometimes investigated, at other times fed and asked after, and in some cases even stripped of its blanket. Demonstrated in these various interactions is something of how the 'excluded' bodies of marginalised individuals come to bear on routines of privilege – the implied politics of which is critical to the chronic disparity as well as racial, gendered and economic divides that constitute the social habit and normalised violence of post-apartheid South Africa.