Romy Ruegger (b. Switzerland) | Approaching Ultra LightSep 12, 2021
My name is Romy Ruegger, and I am a visual artist based in Berlin and Zurich. I work with installations, audio works and performances.
I recently exhibited in "The Moving Body, The Listening Body, Moving Through Wires Of Wind" at the Badischer Kunstverein in Karlsruhe, Germany, alongside artists referential to my practice – Lubaina Himid, Renate Lorenz and Rory Pilgrim.
You can read the scripts of ten performance I have written in the monograph "Language is Skin – Scripts for Performances", published by Archive Books in Berlin in 2018.
I also often collaborate with other artists, cultural producers, and activists to organise social events and programming performances and exhibitions, most notably "Speaks with Silence," a three-day gathering about listening as a decolonial and feminist practice in Zurich in 2016. This will be staged again as part of Sonsbeek Quadrenniale in 2022 at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam.
I am currently developing a new project for an exhibition at the Aargauer Kunsthaus this Autumn. This museum holds one of the most important collections of contemporary art in Switzerland.
In this commission, I contemplate the separation that the current pandemic has caused for the groups of artists and performers I have collaborated with in the past. I am currently looking for artists and cultural practitioners who come from traveller’s families and share similar questions about the centre and the margins of social discussions and the present artistic canon.
If you have any recommendations for works or artistic practices I should consider, please let me know.
Approaching Ultra Light
"Approaching Ultra Light" is an ongoing body of work that I started producing three years ago when my grandmother’s loss of memory made her remember parts of her childhood and youth as the daughter of a traveller and the mother of an illegal child. It consists of an installation of video notes, performance props, archival documents and projections.
My interest in how the societies —where I live — have established current power relationships has led me to look at collections of mugshot photographs taken by large groups of travellers who moved between the geographical areas of today’s France, Germany, Switzerland and Italy.
Those early photographic images are featured in archives of finding lists, which are the origin of today's administrative criminalisation of movement from settled and whitewashing identity categories.
The experience I am going through with my grandmother has made me question the fundamental ways stigmatisation and taboos operate in a lifetime. It has also reinforced my artistic approach towards working with spatial fragmentation and temporal montage in my most recent installations and performances.
"Approaching Ultra Light" addresses the cultural genocides and the amnesia that the women in my own family have been silenced by. I have been able to recognise parts of my identity that had been buried. This has reinforced my artistic approaches towards working with questions of memory.
Tina Campt's "Listening to Images" and Arjun Appadurai’s "Fear of Small Numbers" are points of reference for me in navigating the ethical questions of working with personal oral histories and the historical materials I have found.
Approaching Ultra Light, installation view with slide show including Durheim's mug shots of travellers, circus blue colour stripe and performance prop, Romy Ruegger, Badischer Kunstverein, Karlsruhe, 2020