Performing Proximity: Athi-Patra Ruga, Vania Rovisco


Kunstraum Glockengasse, Vienna, Austria
November 20 - December 2, 2011


Athi-Patra Ruga, Vania Rovisco


Claudia Marion Stemberger

Curatorial statement

In the context of global discourses of the present, proximity may be understood at most as a “relational category”. Subjects constantly negotiate closeness, since the latter always also includes distance. In addition to today’s information technologies, video art or performance art in particular are considered as artistic procedures that are seemingly able to overcome distance. But how do proximity and distance unfold in the present beyond spatial categories? What does closeness consist of?

Vania Rovisco (PT) and Athi-Patra Ruga (ZA), the two artists shown in Glockengasse No 9, oscillate between personal, spatial and social closeness. The exhibiton concept Performing Proximity by the curator Claudia Marion Stemberger includes videos/performances that on the one hand focus our perception of normatively marked subjects in the public space and on the other hand challenge our attention for mentally and socially coded art/spaces. Besides theories of space, the investigation of closeness also affects the understanding of a community.

In her live installation / performance wandering act of attachment (world premiere) Vania Rovisco tests the possibilities of interaction between performers and the audience. The artist aims to use her vagina muscles to start a dialogue with the recipients, and so radicalizes the categories of closeness and community, referring both to the art business and to society.

In his video performance ...After He Left, Athi-Patra Ruga thrashes out the im/possibility of drawing lines in South Africa's urban surrounding. His role plays in public space alternate between female and male gender images and confront the viewer with normative ethnicities. Through his garish clothes and exalted gestures, the artist not only emphasizes the fashion industry and popular media, but he also questions values in sub-Saharan Africa.


Opening reception: Saturday, November 19 2011, 7:00-10:00pm
Live installation by Vania Rovisco: wandering act of attachment

Meet the Curator: Friday, December 02 2011, 5:00-8:00pm


bm:ukk, Wien Kultur, Bezirk Leopoldstadt

Special thanks to

Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian

Thanks to

Förderstipendium Kuratorenreisen, Goethe-Institut Munich

Event partner



Glockengasse 9, 1020 Wien
Wed-Fri, 5:00-8:00pm, or by arrangement

Athi Patra Ruga: ... After He Left (2008)

© Athi-Patra Ruga: ...After He Left (2008). Video performance. Courtesy of the artist and Whatiftheworld Gallery, Cape Town.

© Athi-Patra Ruga: ...After He Left (2008). Video performance. Courtesy of the artist and Whatiftheworld Gallery, Cape Town.

Vania Rovisco: wandering act of attachment (2011)

© Vania Rovisco. wandering act of attachment (2011). Live installation. Image by Joanna Pianka

© Vania Rovisco. wandering act of attachment (2011). Live installation. Image by Joanna Pianka

© Vania Rovisco. wandering act of attachment (2011). Live installation. Image by Joanna Pianka

© Vania Rovisco. wandering act of attachment (2011). Live installation. Image by Joanna Pianka

Artist's statement

"It is impressions that preoccupy us, that which strikes our sensitivity and imagination rather than our intellect. Today, it is perhaps possible only to work in a negative manner, that is to say, somehow, by subtraction and division; by deliberately concealing certain parts so that the totality does not appear; by fragmenting; by blurring; by once again superimposing a veil of indistinction that our over-interested company has made things loose. These things are done in darkness, groping, with no certitude other than the knowledge that if we get lost less in the light, unfortunately we breath no better. Through falling into physical and mental states, by posing questions, simply conversing, or simply witnessing, the co-existence of moments of tension emerge, pulled up or by pulling at what we attach to, expressing will to detach, and to wander/wonder. What is taking place within the body, to exteriorize the inner. In a seemingly exposed situation under performative "control of the self", of own self, an instrument to communicate with an audience conditions related with such a body frame. wandering act of attachment is composed of a body with no other option but to connect to the other and function in conjunction with its surroundings. As it is female it therefore uses what it has received from nature as a vehicle to operate. It rests on the belief that the relationship between performer and audience has reached the time for a shift of the pull and push balance of forces. It seeks to make other places of seeing and doing come to visibility, it pursues the time to move on, along and beyond the opulent body and its begetting society of doers and onlookers, renegociating contracts and codes. Bringing performantive states and body practices into the art gallery setting, the work emerging through presence becoming a live installation. Therefore instead of a performance an object is encountered, the work executed not performed."


Live installation: Vania Rovisco

Video: David Wiltschek

Text: Thierry Decottignies, Clara Masnatta, Vania Rovisco

Composer: Gordon Monahan

Photography: Paulo Melo

Acknowledgements: Jochen Arbeit


Glockengasse No9, Vienna

Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, Lisbon

Les Bains Connective, Bruxelles


Installation views

Installation view, Kunstraum Glockengasse, Vienna. © Franz Riedl.

Installation view, Kunstraum Glockengasse, Vienna. © Franz Riedl.


© — Claudia Marion Stemberger 2019