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Crawling with Athi-Patra Ruga

What a splendid crawl! It began with a meaty chit-chat outside Zeitz Museum of Contemporary African Art, where I recounted my first encounter with Athi-Patra Ruga's live performance. He was dressed in balloons, watching Soap operas in the basement of a rundown building in Hillbrow, during the X-Homes project. Ruga joined me on the steps and we spoke about the ways his life in Joburg influenced the first characters he created, such as Miss Congo.

Ahead of Athi-Patra Ruga's highly anticipated Queens in Exile solo exhibition atWhatiftheworld gallery and to commemorate and celebrate his decade as a practicing artist, art commentator and consultant Mary Corrigall curated a special artcrawl centered on this internationally renowned artist. His art is currently on exhibition at the Zeitz Mocaa and the crawl began at this new landmark. The focus of the discussion between Corrigall and Ruga was on the ways Ruga has evoked 'Rainbows'; from the brightly coloured balloon performances, to the fictitious worlds of Azania he has mapped and concretised in his tapestries to inserting queer culture and figures into real and imagined political struggle narratives

Inside Zeitz Mocaa we chatted about his staged photography, how it grew out of his performance art practice and began to focus on utopian contexts that were beyond his grasp in a live work.

Considering his work a Proposed Monument for Simon Nkoli

Inside his Woodstock studio we could spy all his inspiration, the books and images that informed his practice.

Ruga donned his 'work' jacket and talked about his tapestries, the craft he evolved and grew since studying it at school.

Pic by Tamlyn Martin

A closer look at his map works pic by Tamlyn Martin

A tapestry work in the making that references Lady Di (pic by Tamlyn Martin)


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