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Lot 12
Athi-Patra Ruga
(South African, born 1984)
Ilulwane as uNtsikana
2 September 2020, 14:00 EDT
New York

Sold for US$22,700 inc. premium

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Athi-Patra Ruga (South African, born 1984)

Ilulwane as uNtsikana
wool thread tapestry
137 x 88cm (53 15/16 x 34 5/8in).


Acquired from WhatiftheWorld Gallery, Cape Town, 'Teeth are the only bones that show', 2010';
A private collection.

Art Africa Magazine, 'Over the Rainbow: In conversation with Athi-Patra Ruga.', 2016.

The above work forms part of a series of homoerotic portraits of male figures, some fictional, later translated into physical performances. 'Ilulwane' is Xhosa for bat, but also functions as a taunt in relation to young men who have opted for a hospital circumcision over traditional ritual. Here Ilulwane is seeing himself as the visionary Xhosa prophet Ntsikana, a man that shaped Xhosa mythology. The artist later stated:

"God damn you if you are not from the bush! Then you are not a man, you are ilulwane".

In 2011 Ruga participated in the fourth edition of Performa, a New York-based performance biennial, where he staged a synchronised-swimming performance exploring the complications of tradition and modernity embodied by the ambiguous insider-outside character of Ilulwane.

Additional information