Athi-Patra Ruga

b. 1984, South Africa

Even I Exist In Embo: Jaundiced Tales Of Counterpenetration #7, 2007
Lightjet print
Edition of 5

Image courtesy Whatiftheworld gallery, South Africa & the artist
This was part of a photographic series that Ruga created while he was on a residency in Switzerland. It was inspired by an advert depicting white and black sheep – the latter signifying criminals and foreigners. He found the costume – an Afro at a fancy-dress store. This image was the culmination of a performance which was first undertaken on the streets of Geneva in costume – a mode Ruga embraced in his performative practice – embodying a hyper-expression of otherness and parading in public spaces.

“I made clothes and they ended up assuming a sculptural, non-utilitarian aspect, as in wearing them. They ended up becoming almost soft sculptures and this was a point where I started wearing them because I wanted to put my neck on the chopping line. I wanted those clothes to be my great choreographer and I still believe that the costumes I wear are some kind of a choreographer that is beyond me because they deal with perception; they deal with how other people respond to me,” says Ruga (in an interview with Pamella Dlungwana, 2014)