Thursday, July 30, 2009

WHATIFTHEWORLD/athi-patra ruga/OPENS WED 05 AUG 18H30

OPENING: WED 05 AUGUST 18H30 - 21H00

As a follow up to the critically acclaimed solo exhibition “…of bugchasers and watussi faghags,” Athi-Patra Ruga’s upcoming exhibition at Whatiftheworld, titled “…mr floating signifier and the deadboyz,” continues to expand on the themes introduced by the Artist’s chief protagonist Beiruith. Beiruth’s name is derived from a pun around the middle-eastern city of Beirut – a play on the theme of ‘Orientalism;’ but more importantly he is the illusive figure that qualifies the autonomous body against that of the sovereign state. Through the use of craft, performance, video, sculpture and photography, this body of work investigates ideas of displacement and dislocation in relation to constructs of gender, race, identity, intimacy and sexuality. Combining images and popular iconography, Athi-Patra Ruga interrogates the problematic concept of the Utopian ideal within a Western art historical context. The exhibition will be accompanied by a limited edition Artist monograph published by Whatiftheworld.


"The politics of context are at the heart of Athi-Patra Ruga’s artistic practice. Mainstream art production and criticism in South Africa is simultaneously almost obsessed with the semantic inverse of this, the context of politics. Artists and their works are often ruthlessly yet thoughtlessly checked and balanced against a schema of political concerns important (and rightfully so) in other realms of South African society, but suffocating in art. This literal conception of politics may be at the root of our veneration of the notion of context, a fixation so entrenched in our critical culture that it is taken up practically with a sort of sacred awe, treating the conditions of influence and the thematic agendas of a work of art as incontrovertible truths. But what happens to this system when the integrity of context can’t withstand the grind of the alter-contextual, when improper contexts come to weigh on the work so heavily that it becomes something entirely other than itself? Athi-Patra Ruga is one of very few artists working in South Africa today who dare to entertain this question. His work glosses over politics in the quotidian sense, only in order to show that there is something more profoundly political at stake: our sense of historical, physical, sexual and psychological place. "

Excerpt from Alleys, Ellipses and the Eve of Context
By Anthea Buys

Born in Umtata, South Africa (1984), Athi-Patra Ruga is a hastily-ascending young artist whose work straddles the divides between fashion, performance and photography. Ruga describes his working method as resulting from ‘the clash between material and memory’, but notions of utopia and dystopia also form a common thread. Recent exhibitions include ‘Beauty and Pleasure in Contemporary South African Art” at the Stenersen Museum in Oslo, Norway as well as the Guangzhou Trienalle in China (2008) and ‘Pret-a-Pratager’ at the IFA Gallery in Stuttgart, Germany. 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.

Click here for more info on the exhibition

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