Athi-Patra Ruga

Athi-Patra Ruga

A Glimpse of Utopia

“Somehow resistance is what validates an identity. Growing up gay, black and non-Christian, it kind of is something I love playing with.” Athi-Patra Ruga's sensuous work makes us question everyday life.

Young performance artist Athi-Patra Ruga presents his artistic practice and the ongoing series of works, ‘Azania’. In this performance series Ruga walks in long processions wearing high-heeled shoes and balloons. “Because in real life as well, all identity is made of air.”

Ruga, who grew up in South Africa, explains how his generation was raised to believe that the post-apartheid country had, in his words, “reached a kind of utopia”. His acknowledgement of the widespread prejudice and social problems led Ruga to the concept of ‘Azania’, a pre-colonial idea of Africa used during apartheid to empower pan-African protesters.

Ruga's works are often performed in groups with many bodies working together to realise a vision. “Collaboration for me, as much as it is a word that is thrown around, it truly is a philosophy.” Community in Ruga’s work becomes the utopic vision: “When you’re performing I always feel that there’s a miasma going through the whole crew. It brings everyone together.”

Athi-Patra Ruga (b. 1984) is a South African artist whose work explores the border-zones between fashion, performance and contemporary art, exposing and subverting the body in relation to structure, ideology and politics. He was recently named the recipient of the prestigious 2015 Standard Bank Young Artist Award for Performance. His work has been shown at Performa in New York, USA, the Guggenheim Bilbao, Spain, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Denmark; The 55th Venice Biennale, Italy and at the SFMOMA, USA.

Athi-Patra Ruga was interviewed by Roxanne Bagheshirin Lærkesen at Nørrebro Teater, Denmark, in June 2016.
Camera: Klaus Elmer
Produced and edited by: Roxanne Bagheshirin Lærkesen
Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2016

Supported by Nordea-fonden

  • Marina Abramović & Ulay

    A Living Door of the Museum

    Standing naked in the main entrance of a museum, facing each other while the audience passes sideways through the small space. Legendary performance artists Marina Abramović and Ulay share the story behind their poetic work ‘Imponderabilia’.

  • Julie Nord

    The Power of Drawing

    “It’s the closest you get to silence – or skin. There’s so little between me as an artist and my material.” Artist Julie Nord here shares her attraction to the "no bullshit" of drawing. Visit her studio and take a peek at how she makes her surreal, fairy tale-like drawings.

  • Nina Saunders

    A Cultural Warrior

    Meet artist Nina Saunders who plays with the familiar by twisting it in surprising ways. She here discusses her humorous yet disturbing work – made from discarded upholstered furniture and stuffed animals – which comments on our world.

  • Erica Jong

    Sexuality and Creativity

    “The urge to create and the urge to copulate are very close.” Watch the iconic feminist writer Erica Jong speak candidly of being fuelled creatively by desire, her experiences as a female writer and what she has come to realize about men.

  • Karl Ove Knausgård

    On 'Madame Bovary'

    “This controlled perfection, that I usually don’t like, elevates it.” Karl Ove Knausgård – author of ‘My Struggle’ – here shares his love of the classic novel ‘Madame Bovary’ by Gustave Flaubert, which he has read three times at different stages of his life.

  • Mette Winckelmann

    Woman to Woman

    ”You must evaluate whether the system you’re part of could be effectuated differently.” Meet artist Mette Winckelmann, who believes that abstract painting communicates deeper than language, and explore her visual take on gender politics.

  • Wang Shu

    Architecture is a Job for God

    The Chinese architect Wang Shu’s buildings – a crossover between traditional Chinese culture and large-scale modern architecture – have earned him prestigious awards. “Democracy means a really diverse society,” says the architect in this inspiring interview.

  • Margrethe Odgaard

    Colour Diary of New York

    Becoming more aware of your surroundings can “open a new dimension inside as well as outside yourself.” Meet award-winning Danish designer Margrethe Odgaard who has trained herself to register the world through colours.

  • Adam Caruso

    Novelty is nonsense

    "The European city is one of the great human inventions!” Adam Caruso advocates building with a deep sense of history and tradition. Meet the architect behind the award-winning Tate Britain conversion and numerous Gagosian galleries.

  • Thomas Hirschhorn

    A World of Collage

    Swiss artist Thomas Hirschhorn juxtaposes pixelated images from the media. His works are not about technology, says the artist: “I try to give form to what I can’t accept: that someone else can decide for me what I should do, see or think.”

  • Jonathan Safran Foer

    On Donald Trump

    Jonathan Safran Foer, star of American literature, offers interesting views on America’s new president and the consequences Trump will have on American culture. "The place for literature may be even more important than before," he says.

  • Dorte Mandrup

    Where Place Meets Sculpture

    Rising from the landscape in a place rich with materiality and history sits architect Dorte Mandrup’s new Wadden Sea Centre. Meet the renowned architect and see a building were “everything comes together.”