Asking the question “What kind of stories are we willing to hear?” artist, professor and videographer Candice Breitz’s critically-acclaimed seven-channel video installation Love Story makes its South African debut at Goodman Gallery. Originally screened as part of the South African pavillion at the 2017 Venice Biennale, the installation explores the global refugee crisis and is based on six in-depth interviews the artist conducted with refugees, which were then narrated by Hollywood stars.
Spoken in first person, the installation starts with Alec Baldwin sharing the details of his journey to Italy on a desperately overcrowded fishing boat. Julianne Moore then relates the brutal attack she and her children suffered in the Democratic Republic of the Congo that prompted her to smuggle herself and her children out of the country in the back of a windowless truck. Alternately disconcerting and deeply personal, Love Story’s Golden Globe award-winning narrators create a sense of suspended reality. With only a green-screen background, no props and in their own clothes, they attempt to earnestly narrate the often untold harrowing stories delegated to society’s subconscious that are so vastly different to the realities of their charmed A-List lives.
In a second space (that is accessible only via the first), the original interviews are projected in their full duration and complexity. The result is an installation that invites both empathy and incredulity, representing a subtle critique on the global media’s silence over the refugee crisis and the public's obsession with celebrity and indifference to the plight of refugees.
As Mamy Maloba Langa (one of the refugees interviewed for Love Story) explains it; “People don’t even care about us, you know, they would never put us on a movie screen and talk about us. The media is only interested in famous people; I don’t think all those nice people would come just to listen to my story, I don’t think so…”.
Showing concurrently with Love Story, Breitz also presents a tongue-in-cheek self-portrait titled Profile. Commissioned for the Venice Biennale, the single-channel video installation meshes the worlds of brand promotion and self-portraiture with Breitz channelling both an artist statement and political campaign.