She's Dancing for the Rain with her Hand in the Toaster
4 June - 7 July 2007
Michael Stevenson is pleased to present She is Dancing for the Rain with her Hand in the Toaster, Athi Patra-Ruga's first gallery exhibition. Besides being active as an artist, Ruga owns a clothing label, Just Nje/Amper Couture, which only produces unique pieces. Born in 1984 and trained as a fashion designer, Ruga's debut collection Die Naai Masjien was showcased as a nominee in the Elle New Talent Show at 2004 South African Fashion Week. Since then, the radical nature of his work has caused it to slowly drift away from the fashion industry into a more elusive realm.
An installation of garments suspended from butcher's hooks forms the centre of the exhibition. The clothes, designed by Ruga, carry names such as Get in the car, I am your mother's friend, suggesting an undercurrent of abuse. They are drenched in Rapeseed (canola) oil, an ordinary cooking ingredient but also used as a substitute for lubricant in working-class communities. The darkness of these dripping outfits is offset by frivolous details, such as zebra-striped gold lamé frills that recall the late Brenda Fassie's iconic aesthetic. On the surrounding walls Ruga has created a new version of I Apologise, a improvisational text-based piece recounting a warped moment in the production of child pornography that is directed by a bionic hostess who can heal dis-ease with her body.
The installation is complemented by Miss Congo, a three-channel video work shot on location in Kinshasa, DRC, during a recent residency (part of the final installment of Die Naai Masjien Trilogy), and a performance at the opening by Patra and his team, consisting of performance partner Christopher Martin and personal assistant/production designer Bianca Nobanda.
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© 2007 Michael Stevenson. All rights reserved.