South-African artist Athi-Patra Ruga explores the borders between fashion, performance, and contemporary art through a practice that exposes and subverts the body in relation to structure, ideology, and politics. Bursting with eclectic multicultural references, carnal sensuality, and an undercurrent of humor, his performances, videos, costumes, and photography portray a world where cultural identity is no longer determined by geographical origins, ancestry, or biological disposition, but is increasingly becoming a hybrid construct. Athi-Patra Ruga gained international attention through his performance series The Future White Women of Azania (2010-present) which features fantastical characters—usually played by the artist—whose upper bodies are engulfed by colorful, liquid-filled balloons, while their lower bodies are revealed in stockings and heels. ‘Azania’ is a reference to both classical Greek and Roman accounts of southern Africa and modern activists’ dreams of the pre- and post-apartheid black African utopia.
Born in Umtata, South Africa and based in Johannesburg and Cape Town, Athi Patra Ruga was recently named the recipient of the highly prestigious 2015 Standard Bank Young Artist Award for Performance given to young South African artists who have demonstrated exceptional ability in their chosen field. Recent exhibitions include: Making Africa, Guggenheim Bilbao, Spain, AFRICA: Architecture, Culture and Identity at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Denmark; Imaginary Fact, South African Pavilion, 55th Venice Biennale; African Odysseys, The Brass Artscape, Brussels; Public Intimacy at the SFMOMA, San Francisco; The Film Will Always Be You: South African Artists on Screen, Tate Modern, London; PRÓXIMO FUTURO / NEXT FUTURE, Programa Gulbenkian de Cultura Contemporânea, Lisbon, Portugal.
Amanda Thompson, Belaxis Buil, Carlota Pradera, Emmanuel Williams, Hailey-Drew, Albrecht Luis, Alberto Cuevas, Maria Theresa Barbist, Roberto Seller, Sasha Caicedo, and Shai Isaac
This will be the first time Athi-Patra Ruga’s work has been seen in South Florida.
The bassX series is organized by José Carlos Diaz, Curator of Exhibitions and Leilani Lynch, Curatorial Assistant, and is generously funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.