South Africans woke up to the news that Athi Patra Ruga has collaborated with the international fashion label, Dior to design two bags for their Dior Lady Art Project.
The Umtata born visual artist joins Rina Banerjee, Maria Nepomuceno, Mickalene Thomas, Jia Lee, and Eduardo Terrazas who all designed bags for the fourth edition of the capsule collection. Athi-Patra Ruga x Dior bags will be available in 27 Dior boutiques worldwide on Dior.com from January 2020.
“I think that’s the modernist curse: if it’s too beautiful, it’s not art. For me, I find there’s just something so punk about high fashion and high craftsmanship, which is one of the cornerstones of both my studio and the Dior studio,” he said during an interview with WWD.
“Once you talk about the subject of textile art, we have to speak about the fact that it is highly gendered. Once one speaks of it reaching a tipping point, we are speaking about, and actually probably also indicting, the arts and creative industries for having quite a sexist view of craftsmanship.”
“The art world has to also have the same energy in redressing how this art form that has always been viewed as this women’s work, and not art, is now interesting,” he argued. “Is that linked to a wave of women’s liberation, or is it linked to the market? For me, those are the two ways to look at that tipping point.”
Ruga creates work that explores fashion, performance and contemporary art, as well as themes such as sexuality, HIV/AIDS, African culture, and queerness within post-apartheid South Africa.