Each year, art enthusiasts mark their calendars for the always mind-blowing Performa Gala, an evening that takes thematic dining, drinking, and performances to superbly elevated new heights. On November 1st, the 2016 iteration of the annual fête looked to South Africa for dazzling inspiration. "Beloved Country" gave over 400 guests a taste (both literally and figuratively) of the country's rich history and powerful movements in the arts at NYC's Altman Building.

The evening honored Okwui Enwezor, the influential Nigerian curator, art critic, and writer who became the first African-born director of the Venice Biennial in 2015. After indulging in South African inspired cocktails and dishes, the elite attendees watched in awe as artist Athi-Patra Ruga performed a commissioned piece for Performa entitled Over the Rainbow. Behind a stunning screen splashed with visuals, Ruga emerged as his new avatar, Versatile Queen Ivy, flanked by an ivory-clad chorus of singers. When their fists met the air, one could feel pure electricity flow through the room, their voices and proud faces leaving their audience breathless. The night rounded out with sound design from Cape Town based producer and performer Angel_H0, and a performance by rapper Dope Saint Jude, both wearing costumes by threeASFOUR.

Guests included Performa founder and director RoseLee Goldberg (also wearing threeASFOUR), Cindy Sherman, Dustin Yellin, Dakota Jackson, Juliana Huxtable, and Jeffrey Deitch. Click through for an inside look! 

[Photos by Max Lakner/BFA.com]