Athi-Patra Ruga: The Works

11 Feb 2010 – 21 Mar 2010

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London, United Kingdom


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  • Oxford Circus, Regents Park, Great Portland Street
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FRED London is delighted to announce the launch of a new direction with the first in a series of solo exhibitions by artists of and from the African Diaspora. Over the past year we have been looking at work by African and African-American artists and artists of African descent based in Europe. We have looked at the particular socio-political issues facing such artists, including those of race, gender and sexuality in post-colonial cultures and western immigrant sub-cultures. Having recently visited studios, curators, writers, and galleries in a number of African countries, it is our belief that some of the most interesting work being made today is emerging from such places. The artists in question are exploring notions of identity, nationhood, ethnicity, sexuality, religion and belonging within an artistic framework of race-based dynamics and differences. Many of these artists have not yet had the opportunity to exhibit in the UK. We are delighted to announce The Works, a solo show by young South African artist ATHI-PATRA RUGA. Through craft, performance, video, sculpture, and photography, Athi-Patra Ruga explores ideas of displacement, dislocation, misidentification and misconceptions in relation to race, gender, and sexuality. Political concerns are the heart of his practice as well as the balance of power or struggle between the artist, subject, and viewer. The exhibition explores the boundaries between fashion, performance and photography — as well as notions of masculinity, taste, acceptance, convention, and the status quo. The Works comprises new tapestries and a selection of recent photographs and is Ruga's first solo show in Europe. Ruga is a gay Xhosa man living in South Africa - Xhosa folklore has cast a large shadow over his life, up-bringing and personal relationships, and to a great extent permeates his work. His tapestries for example, present highly politised and unconventional images and are designed to shock and ask pointed questions. However while the subject matter may be original and confrontational Ruga has these tapestries woven by local South-African crafts women following customary Xhosa tradition. Ruga's photo-based work documents his performances. Spotting an opportunity to flag-up old European xenophobia and racism, Ruga, dressed in his aberrant Injibhabha costume, went on to the streets of conservative Bern, Switzerland for the photo-based work Even I Exist in Embo: Jaundiced Tales of Counter Penetration. His performance focuses on concepts of clothing, time and place, and was a response to a controversial poster made by the Swiss People's Party (SVP), which depicted a black sheep being kicked off the Swiss flag by three white sheep.


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