Born 1984 in Mthatha, South Africa
Lives and works in Hogsback, South Africa
Athi-Patra Ruga is one of the few artists working in South Africa today whose work has adopted the trope of myth as a contemporary response to the post-apartheid era. Ruga creates alternative identities and uses these avatars as a way to parody and critique the existing political and social status quo. Ruga’s artistic approach of creating myths and alternate realities is an attempt to view the traumas of the last 200 years of colonial history from a place where wounds can be contemplated outside of personalised grief and subjective defensiveness.
The philosophical allure and allegorical value of utopia has been central to Ruga’s practice. Ruga has used his utopia as a lens to process the fraught history of a colonial past, to critique the present, and propose a possible humanist vision for the future. Significant exhibitions and performances include: Kiss My Genders, Hayward Gallery, London; Ravelled Threads, Sean Kelly Gallery, Seattle; Art Afrique, Louis Vuitton Foundation, Paris; Over the Rainbow, Performa 17, New York, among others. Ruga is also the co-founder of Victory of the Word, a fundraising and development project in support of the historic Lovedale Printing Press in Alice, Eastern Cape, as well as the Artistic Director of BODYLAND, an incubator residency for artists held in the Amathole Village, Hogsback.