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FESTIVAL SELF-EXPRESSION - CURATED BY RUBEN KRUGER

June 5, 2017

 

The need for self-expression dates back to the beginning of time. People have always felt the need to express their thoughts, ideas and emotions. The ways in which this was practiced changed, evolved and refined, but the inherent need to do so, stayed unchanged.

 

Photo: Unknown

 

 

I guess what made me write about this, is the notion that self-expression can be scripted. We find different ways to create an image or a perception, which is rooted in the ideas of the individual, but we curate this to such an extent that it becomes an exaggerated version of the self.       

 

One of many ways we express ourselves is through art. Art as a discipline, was considered for a very long time an imitation or representation of the outer existence but changed radically during the Modern era, when scholars started thinking of it as an expression of the creator’s inner life and feelings. To be honest, I like to think of it as a combination of both, especially when it comes to the internet and social media.

 

Photo: Unknown

 

 

This week I met with Ruben Kruger, a Senior Architectural Technologist from Cape Town. I found his work on Instagram and immediately linked the idea of self-expression with the pictures he took at AfrikaBurn. What makes his work unique, is the way he followed an idea through: from conceptualizing, costume design, photography and post-editing.

 

 

Photo: Ruben Kruger

 

 

 Photo: Ruben Kruger

 

 

Photo: Ruben Kruger

 

 

Ruben’s need for self-expression comes from a time when he was a shy, introverted boy. It was only during university that he made peace with his identity and was he truly willing to be a greater version of himself. The way he views individuality today is to express and accentuate his quirks and that’s exactly what he did at the Burn through means of costume design and photography.

 

Viewing himself as “the biggest unicorn out there”, he carried this idea through his outfits. His main theme was “play” and the festival was thought of as performance art in which he was one of many characters. What makes this approach so interesting, is its abstract nature and the very few literal connotations,  as is often the case with themed parties or festival. It was immaterial enough to explore other made-believed ideas such as mythical and magical creatures. “Wizardry, fairies and children” are all words that he used to describe his inspiration. The use of colour was emphasised to enhance and amplify whatever feeling or message he tried to convey, whether it was through clothing, accessories or images.

 

He made use of unconventional items, such as found objects and combined them with glitter and sequence to add a touch of elegance and glamour. This was contrasted by elements such as worn leather boots and thick woven socks. His pictures depict this interplay between rough and ready and carefully detailed, dear I say effeminate

items. 

 

Photo: Unknown

 

Photo: Unknown

 

 

Although he spent most of his time on creating outfits , he also used his body as an extension of the costume. Ruben felt very comfortable with the idea of embracing nudity. To him, the decision to do so was a very literal and figurative “stripping to the core” and creating from scratch. A dialogue between the costume and the body was created when he carefully decided which parts to reveal and which to cover. Although he handled this part of expressing himself very tastefully, he has strong feelings about the conservative nature and the stigmas associated with nudity. His Instagram account communicates this" f*ck you attitude", and this is perhaps why people can associate with it so well.

 

 

 Photo: Ruben Kruger

 

 

Photo: Ruben Kruger

 

 

I myself, have not attended AfrikaBurn and most individuals who have been to there will tell you that it’s hard to come back to reality once you’ve spent time in this Wonderland. This festival provides an excellent platform for artists and free spirits to express their ideas and creativity. I do however wonder to what extent this is a true representation of the individual. When does planning and conceptualising become too scripted and designed? Does self-expression need to be linked to anything tangible at all? 

 

There really isn’t one single answer for this. I can find expression through a sexy Latin dance or play a sad song on my guitar, and some days I have the need to draw something completely mundane. Whether art and self-expression are representational or expressive, I do believe that even through the most elementary means of art, we leave a mark. We communicate an idea and share something of ourselves with whoever is willing to watch or listen.

 

Photo: Ruben Kruger

 

 

Photo: Unknown

 

 

Photo: Ruben Kruger

 

Ruben is currently working on a festival couture line which he will release in the year to come. Keep an eye out for this amazing young designer.

 

 

 

 

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