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

  • Clemens Setz

    When and Where I Write

    Austrian writer Clemens Setz says he is “very vulnerable” in the early hours of the morning and cuts off all incoming noise from the outside world. Those are “the perfect working hours” for him. Find out why in this short video.

  • Claudio Magris

    Europe and the Open Sea

    “The Mediterranean Sea is becoming a frontier and not a liquid bridge,” says Claudio Magris, leading cultural philosopher of our time. But the sea is many things: bearer of history, great discoveries and the love for his late wife.

  • William Kentridge

    on 'The Refusal of Time'

    How can we get a hold of time with our body and mind? This question is the crux of South African artist William Kentridge’s immersive installation ’The Refusal of Time.’ Join the artist for a detailed tour of his pulsing, breathtaking work.

  • Chigozie Obioma

    Everything We Do is Preordained

    Award-winning Nigerian author Chigozie Obioma calls his debut novel ‘The Fishermen’ “an Igbo version of a tragedy.” Meet the author and hear about his modern day metaphor of “the paradox that is Nigeria.”

  • 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.

  • Jonas Hassen Khemiri

    On Facing the Blank Page

    For Swedish author and playwright Jonas Hassen Khemiri facing the blank page is always “a kind of revenge.” Hear why the acclaimed author – who has been praised by Joyce Carol Oates – considers starting anew as a chance to do even better.

  • Marina Abramović

    On Giacometti

    Marina Abramović has always felt a connection to the work of artist Alberto Giacometti: “It’s like a meteorite coming out of another galaxy where all the matter inside is condensed.” Watch her engage with Giacometti’s iconic sculptures.

  • 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.