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 out-workings 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 raped and killed in South Africa, 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 bodies are routinely objectified, Elegy performances open a distinctly de-colonial and intersectional space, wherein mourning is presented as a social and productive work – not in the sense of healing or ‘closure’, but as a necessary and sustained irresolution.
Goliath has presented Elegy performances in various parts of the world, and will be presenting the Eastern Cape premiere of the work at the National Arts Festival.