iiNyanga Zonyaka: Athi-patra Ruga III
2 September 2020 – 14 March 2022
Norval Foundation is pleased to present a major commission by South African artist Athi-Patra Ruga in their triple-volume atrium. Coinciding with the Foundation’s relaunch on 2 September 2020, iiNyanga Zonyaka (The Lunar Songbook): Athi-Patra Ruga is an ambitious project conceived in three parts. The triple-volume atrium exhibition has now closed and Part III is showing in the Museum Entrance. The exhibition follows the journey of Nomalizo (the one that brings reward), a young woman from eTsomo, a town just above the Kei River. Nomalizo Khwezi travels to Azania City to study. Inspired by Noni Jabavu, the first black South African woman to publish an autobiography, she later works at the Brink Publishing House. Despite her success, Nomalizo becomes lonely and feels a need to re-connect back home.
Ruga’s stained glass series centralises African cosmology as a way of positioning black, queer, and femme lived experiences within the modernised, albeit displaced, world. Thus, Ruga subverts the traditional, theological representation of the medium itself. The work presented in Iinyanga Zonyaka (The Lunar Songbook) forms part of Ruga’s continual excavation of marginalised realities lost and exiled to history. By shaping the narratives and magically obscured rituals of his avatars, Ruga creates a metaphysical passage or dwelling space for divine beings. iiNyanga Zonyaka is the summoning of a cosmic restoration for communities that have had their stories omitted and misrepresented. Ruga presents an ancient alternative to tracking time; shaking the cultural homogeneity and narrative linearity implied by the Gregorian calendar.