Over this past weekend, the most expensive photograph ever sold on the African continent went to a lucky bidder at an auction at the V&A Waterfront for R1 707 000.

The huge price tag-fetching shot was taken by Athi-Patra Ruga in 2013 and is named The Night of the Long Knives. It sold for six times its pre-sale estimate.

The Night of the Long Knives I 2013

The final price of the photograph was reportedly pushed up by two bidders who battled against each other until one won the bid by offering the astounding price.

The sale not only set a new world record, but also marked the first time that a photograph has ever sold for more than R1-million at a local auction.

The 35-year-old’s record was one of six set at the sale for SA art.

The young artist is no stranger to accolades; his work has long been considered groundbreaking and unique, achieving exceptional selling prices and auspicious exhibition spots around the world.

Athi-Patra Rug’s work has adopted the trope of myth as a contemporary response to the post-apartheid era. He creates alternative identities and uses these avatars to parody and critique the existing political and social status quo.

Ruga’s artistic approach of creating myths and alternate realities is his personal way of attempting to view the traumas of the last 200 years of colonial history from a place of detachment – at a distance that the wounds are contemplated without personalised grief and defensiveness.


Pictures: Facebook/Athi-Patra Ruga & Studio


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