Live Virtual Auction, 15 February 2020
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About this Item
"Touched by an Angel is one of several tapestries Ruga produced for The Future White Women of Azania (2010-2016) a performance saga where Ruga constructs the history of a non-dynastic line of queens ruling a kingdom called Azania. Allegorically referring to South Africa’s history, Azania is a Greco-Roman place-name for the lands of eastern Africa repurposed during apartheid to signify the history and dream of black rule on the continent.
Ruga’s influences from drag performance and conceptual fashion manifest in Touched by an Angel’s playful references to pop-culture: a Rihanna-esque bad girl clad in a bikini, the flag drawn from “White Kingdom of Azania” in Marvel’s Black Panther comic books—in part an allegory of apartheid South Africa and its Bantustans—and the television show Touched by an Angel where actress Della Reese plays an angel guiding people through crossroads in their lives. Ruga reads Reese’s character as a sangoma: healers who call on ancestral spirits to treat illness and narrate cultural histories and myths."
Andrew J. Hennlich (2017) After the Thrill is Gone: Fashion, Politics of Culture in Contemporary South African Art. Richmond Center for Visual Art, Western Michigan University.
After the Thrill is Gone: Fashion, Politics of Culture in Contemporary South African Art at:
The Richmond Center for the Visual Arts, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, Michigan, 15 September to 18 October 2016.
College of Wooster Art Museum, College of Wooster, Wooster, Ohio, 12 September to 12 November 2017.
Museum of the African Diaspora, San Francisco, California, 28 March to 26 August 2018.
Andrew J. Hennlich (2017) After the Thrill is Gone: Fashion, Politics of Culture in Contemporary South African Art. Richmond Center for Visual Art, Western Michigan University. Page 38 and illustrated in colour on page 103.
Andrew J. Hennlich, ‘Touched by an Angel (of History): Athi-Patra Ruga’s The Future White Women of Azania,’ in Jay Pather and Catherine Boulle (eds.) (2019) Acts of Transgression: Contemporary Live Art in South Africa, Johannesburg: Wits University Press.