South African Performance Artist Athi-Patra Ruga
Performance is one of the most difficult mediums an artist can step into. Riddled with pitfalls there are so many ways work can be misinterpreted or simply lost in translation.
This is what makes the work of Athi-Patra Ruga bold. The 33-year-old artist chooses to explore sexuality, race, issues to do with pre and post apartheid South Africa all through the use of his body, and occasionally by way of some balloons and a zebra.
He wants to make art accessible he says. “I want to insert myself in places that I was told – through history, through marketing, through my identity – that I can’t be in,” he told 21 Icons, “I don’t want my art to separate anyone. I want to make art that is accessible, so accessible that everyone gets “.
Born in Umtata, South Africa, he splits his time working and living in both Johannesburg and Cape Town. Ruga mixes art forms from the theatrical to video, tapestry and fashion. His longest running performance art, The Future White Women of Azania creates the concept of a pre-colonial mythological homeland. It centers on an individual surrounded by hundreds of balloons. All the balloons are filled with tiny objects that are revealed when popped, and through it representing – amongst other themes – an unraveling of identity.
Ruga will be unveiling a new performance of his Azania series during Miami Beach’s BassX, put on by Bass Museum of Art. If you are in Miami during the last week of February you can catch it at 8pm on February 22.