Athi-Patra Ruga : A Land Without A People… For A People Without A Land
In Situ, Paris, France 10 Sep 2015 - 31 Oct 2015
A Land Without a People...For a People Without a Land, 2014 Wool and thread on tapestry canvas 65 × 82 7/10 in 165 × 210 cm, Image courtesy of Athi-Patra Ruga and WHATIFTHEWORLD
IN SITU Gallery, Paris, presents the exhibition A Land Without A People… For A People Without A Land by South African artist Athi-Patra Ruga.
Azania is a borderless country, one without geography. “A Land without a People for a People without a Land”. Azania is a utopian region characterized by fantasy, resistance, affirmation and frivolity. A kingdom for outcasts seeking refuge or a stage to express themselves. A region adorned with tropical colors, which is populated by characters whose identities are in a state of transformation. Athi Patra-Ruga constructs, through protean writing, a universe where South African and odd aesthetic traditions meet, where ancestral mythologies are a part of festive artifacts, with cheap accessories and an irresistible insouciance. Azania is peopled with elegant and sexy characters, most often embodied by the artist himself, who assert an identity, a body, a position in the world and in history. A territory that unites all those who do not wish to belong to a specific community, but to mankind as a whole. A utopian zone where all those with different traditional affiliations intermingle and cohabit: highbrow-popular, art-craft, mind-body, man-woman, profane-sacred. Symbols that constituent a kingdom (coats of arms, knights, queens and kings) are associated with folklore, religion or even fashion. To do so, different channels are used: performance, video, sound, sculpture and tapestry. Each masterpiece is inspired by ancient texts (stemming from Western and Eastern cultures), as well as different periods of human history (pre- and post-colonial). The people of Azania are exiles, marginalized figures who appropriate a new sphere of influence to express themselves and establish a real multicultural universe as they gradually reach for self-fulfillment. Azania is a promised land, a poetic and political reaction to the manifestations of the survival of Apartheid. The artist, born in 1984, grew up in a society where races were radically and violently segregated – a binary system that he combats by inventing an imaginary country where all unions are permitted. Because his characters embody evolving identities, the artist undermines any attachment to cultural, racial or sexual affiliations. Just like a figure dressed in pink tights, high-heeled shoes and balloons filled with paint, glitter or confetti. These works undermine set standards and codes in order to redefine the body and open up a range of possibilities. Athi Patra-Ruga designs, sculpts and weaves a country where the aspects of frontier, limitation and separation have vanished in favor of those of freedom, pride and frivolity. By mixing the traumas of human history as a whole, the artist authors a story of a timeless country where individuals intermingle with the rest of mankind on a permanent basis.
19 Rue Michel Le Comte
75003 Paris France