cape-town

Athi-Patra Ruga, Lizalis Indinga Lakho/Autistik Imperium (Manifest Destiny/Autistic Empire), 2017, wool and thread on canvas, 16' 4 3/4“ x 13' 1 1/2”.

Athi-Patra Ruga

WHATIFTHEWORLD | Cape Town

Athi-Patra Ruga, Lizalis Indinga Lakho/Autistik Imperium (Manifest Destiny/Autistic Empire), 2017, wool and thread on canvas, 16' 4 3/4“ x 13' 1 1/2”.

Athi-Patra Ruga’s sculpture in the collection of Cape Town’s Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, Proposed Model for Tseko Simon Nkoli Memorial, 2017, portrays a reclining gold figure embellished with fabric roses and baubles. It exemplifies an opulent—almost baroque—strand of figuration that has taken hold in South Africa of late, but also, in its honoring of the anti-apartheid and gay-rights activist of its title, bears out the interlinked focus on racial and gender struggle in this artist’s flamboyant work.

Comprising seventeen wool-and-thread tapestries and a single-channel film, Ruga’s exhibition “Queens in Exile 2014–2017” at the Whatiftheworld / Gallery elaborated his fictional cosmology of Azania, an alternate South Africa ruled by a dynasty of matriarchs. A Roman toponym for southeast coastal Africa, “Azania” became a rallying cry among South African black

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