Athi-Patra Ruga


Born Umtata, South Africa in 1984 and lives and works in both Johannesburg and Cape Town.

Exploring the border-zones between fashion, performance and contemporary art, Athi-Patra Ruga makes work that exposes and subverts the body in relation to structure, ideology and politics. Bursting with eclectic multicultural references, carnal sensuality and a dislocated undercurrent of humor, his performances, videos, costumes and photographic images create a world where cultural identity is no longer determined by geographical origins, ancestry or biological disposition, but is increasingly becoming a hybrid construct. A Utopian counter-proposal to the sad dogma of the division between mind and body, sensuality and intelligence, pop culture, craft and fine art, his works expresses the eroticism of knowledge and reconciles the dream with experience.

Recent exhibitions include: Under a Tinsel Sun the main exhibition of the III Moscow International Biennale For Young Art; Making Way, in collaboration with Mikhael Subotzky at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown, South Africa; Ilulwane, a solo performance at PERFORMA11 (NY) as well as Infecting the City (CPT); Beauty and Pleasure in Contemporary South African Art at the Stenersen Museum in Oslo, Norway; the Guangzhou Trienalle in China; Ampersand at the Daimler Collection (Berlin); A Life Less Ordinary – Performance and Display in South African Art, (UK); For Those Who Live in It – Pop culture Politics and Strong Voices, MU (Holland); Athi-Patra Ruga – The Works, Solo Exhibition at FRED (London) and Dak’Art – Biennale of African Contemporary Art (Dakar).

Athi-Patra Ruga was also recently included in the Phaidon book ‘Younger Than Jesus’, a directory of over 500 of the world’s best artists under the age of 33. His works form part of private public and museum collections here and abroad, namely: Museion – Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Bolzano Italy; CAAC – Pigozzi Collection; The Wedge Collection, Iziko South African National Gallery.

Selected Solo Exhibitions

2014 The Future White Women of Azania Saga - WHATIFTHEWORLD, Cape Town
2012 Ilulwane, Solo Presentation at Long Street Baths, Cape Town
2011 Ilulwane Performa 11, New York City, New York
2010 The Body In Question IV: La Momma Morta , YOUNG BLACKMAN, Cape Town
Athi Patra Ruga: The Works FRED Gallery, London, England
Teeth are the Only Bones that Show, WHATIFTHEWORLD, Cape Town
2009 Mister Floating Signifier and the Deadboyz, WHATIFTHEWORLD, Cape Town
After He Left, Solo Exhibition, YOUNG BLACKMAN, Cape Town
2008 ..of bugchasers and watusi faghags, Solo Exhibition, Art Extra, Johannesburg

Selected Group Exhibitions

2014 Uncertain Terms - WHATIFTHEWORLD, Cape Town
African Odysseys, The Brass Artscape, Brussels
PRÓXIMO FUTURO / NEXT FUTURE, Programa Gulbenkian de Cultura Contemporânea, Lisbon, Portugal
Brave New World...20 Years of Democracy, IZIKO South African National Gallery, Cape Town
Public Intimacy, SFMOMA, San Francisco
2013 Between the Lines, Braunschweig University of Art, Berlin
Making Way: Contemporary Art from South Africa and China, Standard Bank Gallery, Johannesburg
Imaginary Fact, 55th La Biennale di Venezia, South African Pavillion, Venice
The Beautyful Ones, Galerie Nolan Judin, Berlin
Sharp Sharp, Johannesburg, Gaite Lyrique, Paris
Films for Peace , Screened Worldwide including South Africa, Paris, London, New York, Sydney
2012 Neither Man Nor Stone, IZIKO South African National Gallery, Cape Town
Making Way, in collaboration with Mikhael Subotzky, National Arts Festival, Grahamstown
Under a Tinsel Sun, The III Moscow International Biennale For Young Art, Moscow, Russia
A SHOT IN THE ARSE, The Michaelis Gallery, Cape Town
2011 Living as Form Exhibition, New York
A Tribute to Photography, Primo Marella Gallery, Milan, Italy
BECOMING: Photographs from the Wedge Collection, Nasher Museum of Art, North Carolina, USA
2010 Africa, Assume Art Position, Primo Marella Gallery, Milan, Italy
DADA South?, South African National Gallery, Cape Town
X HOMES, Performance Art Series, Johanesburg
From Pierneef to Gugulective, South African National Gallery, Cape Town
For Those Who Live in It - Pop culture Politics and Strong Voices, MU Foundation, Eindhoven, The Netherlands
2009 Pret a Partager (More than the sum of its parts), IFA Gallery, Stuttgart, Germany
Big Wednesday, WHATIFTHEWORLD, Cape Town
2008 Retrospective, IFA Gallery, Berlin, Germany
Infecting the City, Cape Town CBD
Spot on Dak’Art
A Life Less Ordinary; Performance and Display in South African Art, Djanogly Art Gallery, Nottingham, UK
Beauty and Pleasure in Contemporary South African Art, Stenersen Museet, Oslo, Norway
2008 The Trickster, Art Extra, Johannesburg
Upstairs/Downstairs, Association of Visual Arts, Cape Town
Peripheral Vision and Collective Body Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Bolzano, Italy
Disguise: The art of attracting and deflecting attention Michael Stevenson Gallery, Cape Town

Selected Publications

2014      F.W.W.O.A SAGA
2012      The Works 2006-2013