Future White Women of Azania - The Founding Myth
55th Venice Biennale
20:15 – 21:00 pm , Campo dei Frari
The Future White Woman of Azania is an ongoing series of performances first conceived in 2010 and evolving to engage new definitions of nationhood in relation to the autonomous body.
In the enactment of the site-specific work commissioned for the 55th Venice Biennale, the performance takes the form of an absurdist funerary procession. The participants are the ABODADE - the sisterhood order of Azania and the central protagonist - The Future White Woman.
“Azania, as a geographic location, is first described in 1stCentury Greek records of navigation and trade , The Peryplus of the Erythrean Sea and is thought to refer to a portion of the East and Southern African coast. The word Azania itself is thought to have been derived from an Arabic word referring to the ‘dark-skinned inhabitants of Africa.’
Azania is then eulogised in the black consciousness movement as a pre-colonial utopian black homeland- this Promised Land, referenced in struggle songs, political sermons and African Nationalist speeches. In Cold War pop culture , Marvel Comics used Azania as a fictional backdrop to a Liberation story that bares a close resemblance to the situation that was Apartheid in Old South Africa … so it is at once a mythical and faintly factual place/state that this performance unfolds… Who are the Azanians for what it’s worth ? It is in this liminal state that the performance unfolds…“
Seeking to radically reimage the potential of Azania and its inhabitants, the performance questions the mythical place that we mourn for and asks who its future inhabitants may be. Using the “Nation-Finding language of pomp and procession” , Ruga proposes a bold and iconoclastic break with the past Utopian promise of the elders and instead presents us with a new potential and hybridity .
Born – The Republic of Transkei [1984 ]
Lives and works in both Johannesburg and Cape Town.
Exploring the border-zones between fashioni , performance and contemporary art, Athi-Patra Ruga makes work that exposes and subverts the body in relation to structure, ideology and politics. Bursting with eclectic multicultural references, carnal sensuality and a dislocated undercurrent of humor, his performances, videos, costumes and photographic images create a world where cultural identity is no longer determined by geographical origins, ancestry or biological disposition, but is increasingly becoming a hybrid construct. A Utopian counter-proposal to the sad dogma of the division between mind and body, sensuality and intelligence, pop culture, craft and fine art, his works expresses the eroticism of knowledge and reconciles the dream with experience.
Recent exhibitions include: The Beautyful Ones , Nolan Judin Gallery , Berlin .Under a Tinsel Sun the main exhibition of the III Moscow International Biennale For Young Art; Making Way, in collaboration with Mikhael Subotzky National Arts Festival, Grahamstown, South Africa; Ilulwane, a solo performance at PERFORMA11 (NY) ,Beauty and Pleasure in Contemporary South African Art at the _Stenersen Museum_ in Oslo, Norway; the *Guangzhou Trienalle in China; Ampersand at the Daimler Collection (Berlin); A Life Less Ordinary - Performance and Display in South African Art, (UK); For Those Who Live in It - Pop culture Politics and Strong Voices, _MU_ (Holland); *Athi-Patra Ruga - The Works, Solo Exhibition at _FRED_ (London) and *Dak'Art - Biennale of African Contemporary Art (Dakar).
Athi-Patra Ruga was also recently included in the Phaidon book _'Younger Than Jesus'_, a directory of over 500 of the world’s best artists under the age of 33. His works form part of private public and museum collections here and abroad, namely: Museion - Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Bolzano Italy; CAAC - Pigozzi Collection; The Wedge Collection, Iziko South African National Gallery.