artist/advocacy statement

"the demand that everything must make a spectacular political statement […] has forced us to gloss over the nooks and crannies [….] By rediscovering the ordinary […] the daily lives of people should be the direct focus of political interest [….] If it is a new society we seek to bring about in South Africa then that newness will be based on a direct concern with the way people actually live." 

– Njabulo Ndebele, 2001, South African Literature and Culture: Rediscovery of the Ordinary

My work is an artistic exploration of making the private public. For me there is no politics outside of the private, nothing extraordinary outside of the carnival of everyday, ordinary life. My artistic vision stems from the need to share the quirky, queer, beautiful and extraordinary that I see in the ordinary. I am in love with the individual, eccentric beauty and extraordinariness that I see in the ordinary around me in my daily life – the very human landscape of the city we live in, the selves that we choose to inhabit and the very organic and dynamic energy at the heart of the way that we engage with our city and ourselves. It is this energy, this life-saving and life-celebrating renewal, recreation and renegotiation that is at the heart of my journey and who I am, what I see in this city and its people, and thus the images that I make. 

My work is, first and foremost, a vehicle through which I perform the continuing creative construction of my identity; a way for me to document who I am, who I am becoming. I approach other spaces through fearlessly, and yet courageously, exploring inner space. My very confessional public excavation of the private through sharing my journey on Facebook and Twitter allows me to explore my self and my performance of my fluid identity and gender identity. By removing myself, as far as is possible, from the politicised community I live in, as well as the politicised categories I have lived within for most of my life, I am allowed the relative freedom of playing with and performing my own self, continuously and unendingly recreating and reconstructing my self, sharing that de- and reconstruction with my audience.

And the beauty is that my work has literally saved my life, has changed the way I see myself forever, has enabled me to fall in love with myself and the world around me. What started out as an autobiographical, therapeutic and healing process is now the framework for my work, allowing me to elicit the personal from the public, as my scrutiny of what it means to be human from the inside out allows me to see the human-ness in that which I see. I envision my portraiture as a mediated and collaborative experience of being stripped bare of its branded identity: humanity in its unmediated, ordinary and thus extraordinary form.

My images are a conscious choice to tell my own story and collaboratively tell the stories of my community, my city. My work is thus a collaboration with people and places on a journey of who they are, who are interested in playing with their identities, who want to explore the creative possibilities outside of the stereotypes. And they are not just objects outside of my self. They are a very human landscape rediscovering the extraordinary within the ordinary.

All images and text © Germaine S. Gabriel. S. de Larch, 2017, unless otherwise stated. All images for sale as limited edition prints.
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