Athi-Patra Ruga was born in 1984 in the Transkei South Africa is a South African artist who uses performance, video, textiles, and printmaking to explore notions of utopia and dystopia, material and memory. In 2004 Ruga was awarded a scholarship to study fashion design at the Gordon Flack Davidson Academy of Design in Johannesburg. Currently living and working between Cape Town and Johannesburg, Ruga continues to integrate fashion design with art and performance. He is a mentor on the Adult Contemporary Projects, a series of exhibitions that support South Africa’s young unsigned art talent.
In 2015, Ruga was awarded The Grahamstown National Arts Festival’s 2015 Standard Bank Young Artist for Performance Art and presented The Elder of Azania, a work that is part of his ongoing performance series The Future Women of Azania, first conceived in 2010.
Other recent performances of The Elder of Azania were included in the Johannesburg Pavilion during the 56th International Art Exhibition of the Venice Biennale in Italy All The World’s Futures curated by Okwui Enwezor in 2015 and Public Intimacy, Yerba Buena Centre/SFMOMA, San Francisco in 2014. In 2016, Ruga was commissioned to do a performance piece entitled Over the Rainbow for the Performa Gala in New York. Other solo exhibitions include: Athi-Patra Ruga, Bass Museum of Art, Miami, Florida, USA (2016); A Land without a People… for a People without a Land, In Situ Fabienne Leclerc Gallery, Paris (2015) and a tapestry commission and exhibition for Espace Culturel Louis Vuitton (2014).
Recent group shows include AFRICA: Architecture, Culture and Identity, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Louisiana, USA (2015); The Film Will Always Be You: South African Artists on Screen, Tate Modern, London, UK (2014) and Imaginary Fact, 55th Venice Biennale, Johannesburg Pavilion, Venice, Italy (2013).