In the beginning of the third trimester of 2008 it is possible to start making an analysis of what has characterized these last 12 months. Among what happened and as far as our arguments are concerned, we are going to focus on two major facts: the Olympic Games held in the exotic China and the economic crisis where we are immersed.


As it seems, both the facts are linked. The Chinese had definitively and unilaterally decided to abandon a diet on rice, eating at least twice a day. Thus, the best way of doing it was to directly enter this global world. The one which is unique, uniform, organised, technically developed and, above all, safe. In spite of all security, it is annoying, also irrelevant, looking alike, suffocating and self-evident. To reach this, they applied a formula they already knew because they had used it before: sports. The only human activity which, theoretically, is non-political, non lucrative, promotes equality … democracy, basically because there are neither winners nor losers, only participants.


Some ears ago, during the cold war, to break the existing ice in the relations between the United States of America and the communist China, a series of “ping-pong” meetings were organised (purists call it “table tennis”). The allegory and/or metaphor hasn’t stopped surprising me since then. It consists of a small ball that goes and comes on a green table of small dimensions. At that time it was only a matter of softening some rough corners, but actually it was a large-scale event and, therefore, it also had to be much more sophisticated. They took Beijing to Zeus Tonante and to all his companions of the Olympus. Surely, trying to emulate Hesiod and intended to create a Pantheon with new Gods.


We want to oppose a third fact to this reality, which was much less commented and announced, however not less transcendent. Rute Rosas makes an exhibition in a small Village on of the north of Portugal, namely in Vila Nova de Cerveira. It is an old village of Celtic tradition, situated on the banks of the Minho river. Its location converts it into an enclave linking North and South, though separated by the politics, joined by the conscience, where there is a constant flow of water, people, ideas, desires and illusions. Definitively, it is a door that opens to insufflate new air. It is as a resistance nucleus, alternative to these new trends that claim the only thought.


This makes us think of another small village on the north of Galia, which, thanks to a magic potion, resisted and will resist forever… It is up to us to remember that, and according to the historic records, they have also won the Olympic Games in which they participated.

Well, Rute is over there. However… she is neither Asterix; nor Obelix. Perhaps she may have something of Panoramix, the druid. No, she is none of them, nevertheless, in her daily dwelling she has something, the best of each one. From Asterix she has the agility and intelligence, the strategy and the wit. From Obelix, she has the simplicity based on the obvious and on his love for Idefix, in her case for Fugi. From Panoramix, she has a tuning with the environment, a reference to the natural, a capacity of creation, better than that, a capacity of creating by means of a constant transformation. Perhaps, being a woman helps in this reality. The creative capacity and the serenity of her creation offer to Rute a mysterious possibility of full introspection. We would say that Eleusis is alive.


This is what we can see, that is, feel, in this exhibition. It presents the long way of the work that, in distinct stages, has been the vital reason of the author. Facing such situation and because we are orthodox, we would have to find some objective which would define and characterise the quality of the exhibited proposal. As it is composed of a series, which relates to previous creative stages, we should be facing something we know as “an anthology, a retrospect, a biography”,… however, it is not the case.


We cannot conceive it as an anthology, as in it we find neither the previous stretches nor notes, not even an evolution line; neither it is an inert, inanimate compendium of reference. Nor it is a retrospective exhibition, we are not on the top of a hill, necessary and privileged, from where we can glimpse a passage with its wavy ways and its ups and downs. In no case it is a biographical exhibition for it lacks many elements, references and nuances to synthesize a life. Then, what are we facing?


We are facing an essence, a flow, her “magical position”. A prescription from where the different components of the mixture are disclosing.


A magical potion, that takes as central and nuclear reference the body itself. It is a constant reference to existence and to feeling. Let us say, the sum of living. This body is also the reference of the resources, the desires, the illusions, of what could have been and that never will be, because, definitively, the senses establish the relation to the exterior. It is interactive; it is the way from which the expansion is established, taking as centre a simple umbilicus, which is a materialised umbilicus, as other anatomic parts. A body that was hugged, sewn, mutilated, displayed, washed…


We face a selective sample of her work, her techniques, but also and uniquely a sample of her way of feeling. It has a concept of transformation, of evolution, an overcoming of feelings and states, not in their extension but in their essence. It clearly wants to be a synthesis; that is, a selection and organisation of contents that, no doubt, display the closing up of a phase, perhaps of youth, in order to be able to face a new process of expansion.


So far Rute had established a narrow relationship between experience, action, reaction and work, our Obelix in his best. However, a recent alteration has been produced. There has been an awareness of the existence of something which is above the work itself, above what induces us and takes us to a place, to a goal. A destination? In the classic sense (Olympic) of the word. Our existence and the existence of the author herself go beyond, drawing a foreseen future of fullness, Asterix, but always helped and complemented by the “natura naturans”, Panomarix.


The consolidation of some personal and emotional parameters is clear. As, definitively, any process of selection of experiences is connected to a complex net of ethical and moral principles and to the creation of an evaluative and controlling context of everything which is and was in itself. Thus, it is established a reference point that imposes a self criticism process of expressive limitation. This, even though it may seem a paradox, it is clearly a symptom of freedom and of creative capacity. Self control means the use of a purified surgical tool that allows the improvement of contents, forms and means.


We notice we are facing this disruption by the change of category of the subject. Now we are facing the breath, the opposite of the asphyxia. I believe that the evidence is such that is not necessary to consider the implications. We cannot forget that breathing is the first act of autonomous life of all newborns. It is a painful act that initiates the penitence of life, of this long passage that will finish when one expires, when one exhales the last breath. Life, definitively, is only about breathing in and out.


However, the rhythm of the life also conjugates with the cadence of the breath, this exchange between the interior and the exterior. There is time for quietness, a word that can only very slowly be pronounced, perfectly measuring the expulsion of air, but there are also moments for hectic, where the violence of the air expulsion marks the tension just by itself. This implies dynamism and a swing movement and, logically, a heating and constant cooling of the ways where it passes through.


It is, definitely the aspect that lacked Rute’s trajectory. So far, her proposals have only been steady and static exhibitions; inside a space that we should go through. All her formulations were material, tangible, objective, real,… now it is only movement and as such, only suggested, indicated and only designated. Eolo is the only God who manifests itself by its movement. Eolo is not seen, is not touched, it is felt. It is intangible and it is the only one that, with its holy blow, can take man from the maximum of his well-being to madness or suicide.


Facing this, one would say the author wants to take a breath, animus, to search this instant of rest. To fill the lungs anew and to restart the career that leads her to destination she has promised herself, and as Flipsides, he may arrive at Athena’s feet, goddess of wisdom, strategy and war, to proclaim in loud voice “Nike” (victory). We fought and we won the gregarious troops of the great empires.





For a moment, on the whole of the exhibition’s space, disclosed when the curtains descend, one single word: breathe.

The presentation Respira/Breathe has the invisible and preeminent vital force of a deep breath. Rute Rosas realigns her breathing, observes herself, and invites the visitor to do the same, to join up in her pondering.

The video of the opening, showing the record of that minimal event, along with the release of an object, the catalogue, signed and numbered, are the remains of what might have been a conventional exhibition. The latter gathers the essential of Rute Rosas’ work and embodies the present retrospective movement, including also recent works, by the artist, and in co-authorship and collaboration, mostly with young artists.

The iconographical cancellation of Respira/Breathe may be grasped in the continuity of the installation Não Há Príncipe Azul no Elefante Cor-de-Rosa/ There is no Blue Prince on the Pink Elephant (April 2008, Espaço Ilimitado, Oporto), from which the artist has excluded some of the distinctive elements of her artistic discourse: representations of her own body, the proposition of direct sensory experiences or of a convivial predisposition (expressed, for example, on the offer of edible items). These elements facilitate the concrete living experience, the emergence of an embodied unconscious and of the creative volition, thus reducing the importance of reading the meaning; besides, they manifest the ego impulse in a physical essentiality, prefigured on the objectivity of the behaviour by the protocol for fruition.   

In Não Há Príncipe Azul…,/There is no Blue Prince..., the space of the house – replete with quotidian articles, evocative of memories of life, and exhibited almost museographically – does not contain any device that might lead to a behaviour of access into the body’s materiality, nor any representation of the pure experiential vitality of the body. Life and experience are schematized within the delimited area of the codified discourse, they appear mediated by language, by their inherent meaning, either through the verbal content of the embroidered messages, or through the poetic content of the framed articles and objects in display, simbolically overcharged.

Although immerse on a prepared environment, the visitor nevertheless aprehends the sense of the work through the making of meaning, mainly by a conceptual, discursive or even literary approach.

Within this progression, in which the assertion of the ego shifts from the dynamism of the unconscious to the deliberation of the conscious, Respira/ Breathe may be viewed as an unreserved compliance with the exercise of consciousness, that resets the ego’s role as negotiating centre of the conscious process, as agent of mediation between the personal unconscious, reality, and the persona. The persona that emerges from the presentation Respira/Breathe is introspective and discrete. It is envelopped by the verbal code, sheltered by the linguistic consciousness. It is mediate, inclined to the examination of the impulses. It poises itself on the reflective silence of reading, where all that remains is the murmur of breathing, a residual trace of physiology.     


Simultaneously with Respira/Breathe, Rute Rosas revisits, in Cerveira, the residency Faço de conta que és tu/Make believe (Berlin, 2004, Galerie 35), maintaining its central icon, a wooden object that stylizes, in natural size, the figure of a body with bent legs, to be laid down on its chairlike position. The comparative reading of the two projects, within the idea of symbolical transmutation that is the core of the individuation process, supports the interpretation of a persona that chooses to observe instead of acting, dissociated of the reverie that the icon formerly arose. 

On the project of the original residency, the artist slept with the wooden figure on the same bed where it layed, using it almost as an object of substitution. The pretence of interaction stressed an unrequited expectation, a longing, the dramatically overcharged atmosphere of attachment.

In Cerveira, the wooden figure rested two nights on the back of a van, inside a black bag, from which it was taken out to be laid on a bunk bed of an inn, on the room beneath the one where the artist slept in. To the sparing of gestures that results from the absence of interaction initiatives corresponds a reduction on the energy of the psyche in its denser plans, the physical and the emotional, and these factors confirm the erasure of the symbol, that has expired as a dynamic structure of the individuation process.    

Meanwhile, a few final procedures compose a new image: the wooden figure will be laid on one of the sides of a bed split in two – literally, revealing all the layers of fibre, from the matress to the cover – a sculpture object that carries, also in directly aprehensible meanings, what is left of the biographical cycle. This piece will be part of the collection of the Museu da Bienal de Cerveira, in which the artist is already represented with her installation work Da Terra ao Céu/From Earth to Heaven, that was awarded the Prémio Bienal de Cerveira/Prize Bienal de Cerveira in 2005.






Is your work auto-biographical or fictional? Or, in another perspective, perhaps it only looks for the register of an internal imaginary but not necessarily personal…

Rute Rosas. What I do is auto-referential, auto-biographical, but it is also fictional. I create other realities. It is not an album or a diary. It is not intended to have a narrative. It doesn’t concentrate only on me. It comes from me. If it was a diary, I wouldn’t exhibit it, but it also truth that it is my life. What happens is that my life is much alike to the life of any another person, and as I use to say: more important than what keeps us apart is what keeps us together. In this way, apart from the exercise of self-conscience and auto-criticism, I need to be involved with what encircles me, with the Other. Without this Other, nothing makes sense. I do not exist. (…)

V. We understand it is a reflexive process. Being the starting point this interaction with the Other and knowing that your work is within the scope of self-knowledge, what is the added value of this exterior/interior transition, personal sphere to the public sphere?

R.R. Reflexive/introspective or vice versa, reflexive in the direction of the reflection of the Other and of the Self, or the others that exist in me and that, sometimes, surprises me. The existential experiences are very rewarding, but more important than the experiences themselves; it is the attention we pay to them and what we pick from them.

There are men and women who cross our lives, just passing by of staying more permanently and that leaves a mark in us, with their own experiences or with their work, their writings, or statements, their talks, their glances, confessions, gestures…

When I exhibit or place a work in contact with the admirers/public, I only propose something which is very simple but simultaneously very complicated to obtain in the XXI century: a little of predisposition, attention.

The word interaction is so much used that it seems to have lost its meaning. A dialogue is a magnificent process of interaction. But it is necessary some commitment so that there is action and reaction.

I believe in the possibility of “touching” the Other. Even if only for a moment, in a reflection, appraising or turning him/her remembered, activating what seemed to be hidden or forgotten.

It happens that only few times I know I’ve achieved it, but I don’t know to give up, I don’t want to, I cannot and I can’t explain the reason.

V. More than touching a homogeneous public, you prefer to touch the single person “the Other”. This moment of predisposition to talk could then be a moment of mutual identification where the individual recognizes him/herself in your work and the work gains meaning in the reading that the individual makes of it. Are you interested in provoking duality, familiarity/discomfort in the admirer of the work?

R.R. I prefer the terminology admirer-participant, either physically active or not, depending on what they come across. The reasons are diverse but, in the scope of this talk, I think it makes sense to fit it into the question of plurality and diversity.

This Other is heterogeneous with common characteristics as the fact of being human, but with its singularities that make each of us unique and simultaneously close and similar.

In Art almost everything interests me, except what it is not. And that is much.

VOCA. And Oporto?

R.R. Oporto is my hometown. I was born here, I grew, live and work here.

I love my language, some traditions and I am proud of my roots. My identity is this. If it had been born and grown in another place I would be different.

Because of this, I also am critical enough as far as the Portuguese, Oporto, and Portugal are concerned.

Oporto should not be nor intend to become, to my understanding, a metropolis. To be a great cosmopolitan village with always better conditions of life, with everything a city should have, that is okay.

As for Arts or the artistic panorama… I feel it is essential to travel and to know other realities to understand ours.

Oporto is neither better nor worse than other places. It is what it is. It has its own people. It has enormous defects as any another place and also its virtues.

The problems of the artistic panorama are not in the cities, in the places… they are always in the people. We all are responsible for what we have, some more and other less responsible. The political, social questions, economic and human investment in the education, the culture, the education and the information to the population are transversal and parallel to the artistic production and to the artistic panorama.

Let us say that this last part of the reply, though being true, is very convenient.

Anyway, we can try to do something. I do what I can and I think I know how to do it from my experience: I was a pupil, an adolescent; I am teacher, a plastic artist, a woman, a citizen.

I learned with what I received either positive or negative, desirable and undesirable, from what I observed,… what I felt, what made me laugh or cry,…

As teacher I learned to supply the tools that I did not receive and that lacked me as a student, I give continuity to some teachings I haven’t forgotten, which I learned while I was a student from regrettably few professors and artists, and those I keep inside of me.

In the same sense I learned that it is very important to monitor the pupils and to contribute, in case that they are interested in it, to prepare them for the professional life; to be by them helping them to build their foundations, so that they may feel safe. I feel it as a moral and ethical obligation.

I have seen the results of this work and I feel very happy. Some became friends and colleagues, other successful colleagues.

I say this because it is not about getting young people to work for me, becoming my assistants, it is about guiding them in their personal projects and trying to promote them somehow, even if it is their first public exhibition.

I consider that there is no competition in Art. Art is superior to it.

I value the ethical strategies.

Wanting to become a “star”? Wanting to become an “artist”? I do not understand it. I do not lose time trying to answer these questions. The media answer for me.

As far as Time is concerned… who knows…

My work and the exhibitions or projects that I regularly carry through in the most diverse spaces, just happen as long as they please me and as long as I can talk, creating a simple basis of agreement with the people who invite me to do it. I have to feel free to arrive at an agreement. And, thus, dialogues are created, right?


Excerpt of a talk/interview carried through for Voca through email during the month of May of 2008





“…there are few who still know… “ (Robert Musil)

Rute Rosas has been a cult place since the beginning. The body emerged as soon as the first collective exhibitions, characterised by the unspeakable in the beauty that emptied itself in the substances and in the symbols that formed them - masks, small statues, fetishes… In the archaic and traditional communities of holistic and communitarian component, it is the body, which encompasses and crosses all the individual bodies: it is a body that contains the inheritance of the deceased in itself and the social mark of the rites – tribal corporal communication.

In the communication of the signs, as in apprehension and translation, what allowed that the codes were transmitted and understood was a particular function of the body. The communitarian body implies an experience of the singular body while not separated, not isolated from the things and from the other bodies. The “body itself” erected in concept by the phenomenology it is a product of the West.

It can only be thought as such – isolated – to “whom it lends its face”; only conceivable in the social structures of individualistic type where man is  separated from each other, as far as values and initiatives are concerned – in their axiology, praxis and pragmatic.The singularity of the “individual” it is not a self with a distinct body - with its organs, its skin (in constant change, I-skin, following Didier Anzieu), its affectivity, its separated thoughts from the rest of the community – rather of a body in communication with all the nature and all the culture and, in such a way, much more singular because it lets itself be crossed by the biggest number of social and natural forces. Rute Rosas - FRAGMENTS OF ME (2007) - takes the physicality divided from itself, systemizing individualised units of its body not only understood but as direct trace brought through moulds that almost eternalize in substances with volume. Some make sure of its divinatory parcel, gaining property as brief relics. The bodies recover their wholeness through the separation of their constituent elements, those which best explicit them: nipples, fingers that tear walls; lips - LOOKING FOR COMFORT IN a KISS (2006), umbilicus that are metonyms… the recurrent shapes of the self in the body itself seen as spectator, in front of snapshots of reason and sensitivity. Sacred or profane tops, silver and bronze that find a material redemption for the millennium – a proposal of Calvin or angel of José Jimenez. And in the allegoric fullness of erected forms, the overlapping dominates, figure like compacts and signs of the bodies.


“I get up in your mirrors

I see myself in ancient faces

I see yourself in mine as many faces

had, lost, broken


non reflected…”, by Ferreira Gullar, Poema Sujo (Dirty Poem), Obra Poética, Famalicão, QUASI, 2003, page 302.


(Taken from the text of the exhibition “…there are few who still know… “ , with works of Catarina Saraiva, Pedro Valdez Cardoso and Rute Rosas.

Director: Mª de Fátima Lambert, Quase Galeria, Oporto, June/August, 2008)





A short talk to the ones that do not know and to the ones who believe that “there isn’t any blue prince in the pink elephant”

Let us start by analysing the name of the exhibition “there isn’t any blue prince in the pink elephant” that Rute Rosas exhibits in Espaço Ilimitado in Oporto. Before anything else, it is strange, however familiar. It reminds us of a lullaby story we tell children before they go to sleep. Is the whole sentence a statement of impossibility and uncertainty? It is an image taken from a tragic-comic story, with a burlesque tone, as if reality painted itself of colours that represent sadness and dream (blue and pink). Let us look at the expression; I’m blue, let us remind the American dream and the meaning that is attributed to blue in a certain context and Anglo-Saxon imaginary. Let us also revisit the images of the satirical ballet Dance of the Hours in the film Fantasy of Walt Disney (1940) with music with the same name by Amilcare Ponchielli, where a group of different animals represents the different hours of the day. We realise it is necessary to disclose, to understand, to digest. That nothing it is what it seems. And what do we come across in the exhibition? We enter in a scenery: true or false? Is it real or fictional? We understand that we enter in a house without a human being. Half-opened empty furniture, dry bunches of roses, embroideries, wires and needles, white carnations, liquors and biscuits, television set on without emission (pink noise)… What has happened here, in this home? Maybe it is an abandoned castle. Joy, pleasure, isolation and solitude, malaise, pain, abandonment…? Then, though the body is absent, why is its presence even strongly felt? It is not here! How? Hasn’t Rute Rosas as essential centre of her speech, the body itself? The body is exceeded when it does not exist. It is changed into memory that does not belong to the artist but to the spectator. We realise that we can be, only be. Without intending to create any type of convention or to determine the way as the spectator will have to observe, to feel the work, Rute Rosas creates the conditions that do not inhibit or camouflage affective sensorial memories that obviously will be different from spectator to spectator. It is this question, which reflects, in a more evident way, differences in her approach and speech. Now, Rute Rosas does not attribute to the spectator or admirer a comfortable place.


Text written for the exhibition “there isn’t any blue prince in the pink elephant”, Espaço Ilimitado, Oporto, April/May 2008.





…I would like you to write, because you know all my process, because I can not write now (the thesis does not allow it, the censorship does not allow me to show texts for now)



By receiving this e-mail I though: as always, Rute has put me into trouble. She asks me to write something concerning her process of artistic creation. Facing this challenge, and as it is expected, my first intention was to write one of those serious texts, with plenty of words, and where it seems that interesting things are said. Nevertheless, I remembered Leonardo’s aphorism, which says “there are people who think that there is something behind words.” To this picture of an old man with a magnifying glass looking at a straight row of letters, as ants, it was joined the memory of those long talks I had with you. It was here presented the contradiction between the graphic semantics and the pure dynamic of oral speech. Two very interesting ways of expression, but that in any case would not fit this occasion. Consequently, I though that perhaps it would be better to state some appreciations than …


The first news that arrived to me of your existence came in a very indirect way and as a subject of worry of a common good friend. I refer to Antero Ferreira. We shall retrace to the moments in which both of you were members of the directive team of the Fine Arts Faculty of Oporto. It was also the time in which your first sentimental rupture took place. Therefore, we can surely state that those were times lived with utmost intensity,  that was as much for the possibility of accomplishment of university utopia, as for the personal crisis, that any emotional rupture implies. This distant and indirect reference allowed me to build an aseptic picture, meaning scientific, of your existential reality. I could glimpse somebody with a deep sense of their own existence, but simultaneously, with a visible incomprehension of one’s own reality.  I saw you as someone with distinct psychic plans, not congregated among themselves, but with a deep will and interest in understanding which were the internal mechanisms of functioning. On the one hand, it appeared strength; I shall say a passion, which gave meaning to life. Notwithstanding this fact, this same power was contradicted by the more natural affective needs, which palpitated with the social and professional activity.


Some time after that I had the chance for us to meet at a restaurant table, along with Antero and Mireia, another Catalan, who was also in Oporto and in need of speaking Catalan. In that same dinner, the previously established hypotheses had been confirmed. Rute, you are passionate, strong, enchanting, but with a great self-control.  You are a rational little rain storm, dominated by reason, although it does not understand its real effectiveness.


Since that dinner and until today, a lot of water ran, and we have repeatedly had occasions to talk about humans and the divine; more over, we have inclusively initiated a doctoral thesis, clearly artistic. This is probably the best challenge we, at the moment, have in hands. It is a challenge that can consider an alternative system to the creation of a scientific/ university knowledge. Honestly, I think I made a good choice in having you as my PhD student, basically, because I am convinced that your system of auto-recognition is simply artistic. Life and creation are gathered together in you. One without the other is not conceivable; they feed each other and valuate the existence. To all this, one must add the value of the natural feminine side, which offers to the whole a sensitivity side that, being able to go from the brutal to the lyric, always has a face of the author.


It seems to me, at the very least, interesting, since nowadays, understand or to speak about art is very complex. This is because, for several centuries its real value has vanished. One departed from that conception of social, educational and dissemination … that was given to it and that made it essential in man’s understanding and conceptualization. That justifies it, as being enabled for abstraction and spiritual joy. From this reference, one had a slowly transfer, but effective one to appreciate it, basically for its economic component, in the best cases; or simply as an activity dedicated to the decoration and embellishment of the scene, where human relationships are established. All of this without considering, as it is our case, that will of usual functionalism between the ones responsible for the University’s teaching and artistic university research. 


Therefore, to find someone that makes of his own life, an artistic reason is always to be thankful for. One has the feeling to be facing a truth. There is something of consistent and real that is recognised only by looking at it. On that subject, I would like to point two complementary aspects that seem to me, memorable: the first one, to refer the technological instruments that you use; and the second one, to evidence as your artistic accomplishments are a way towards self-knowledge. 


Technologically, you use processes with a marked anthropologic meaning that sometimes indicates prehistoric or pre-industrial processes. I would like to remember the use of textile resources, which make us go indirectly backwards until old myths, separated from the feminine side; or the use of the technique of the “lost wax” to generate anatomic forms extracted from your own existence. To this reality is joined the use of top technologies: photography, computer science, etc. However, its contents, its forms become human again. I was surprised when the plans of the thesis or of the spaces that are now in exhibition, reached me by e-mail (informatics), being hand made. Obviously, there was a sensorial contradiction. Or not? Yes, while adequacy to the means, but not while communication wish. This we also have found some years ago in that pictures’ collection, let us say, black series and/or in the action of “Hug me”.


Similarly, it is necessary to recognise the easiness with which these technological means are used. There is no intention of virtuosity; it is not presented the necessity to bring them up to their capabilities of use. On the opposite, its use is direct, simple, evident, because the interest is to show them as they really are, simple means. They are not important, they are not the reason, they are only the contents’ accessory. To this reality one has to join another characteristic, all of them indicate a sequence. Even the photographic treatment, defined by their spontaneity, mark a before and an after, a journey.


The second aspect, that I previously designated, confirms definitively this veracity in the proposals. We agree that all the proposals in the field of the Art are self-referential to the author. That is the basic rule. However, in your case, I believe that the reality goes a little more beyond. Whereas, to the others, it is presented as a personal expansion, as a public exposition of an interior, in your case it is something distinct. It is a self-explanatory, it is a reflected action. You search yourself in your own workmanship. There is a high degree of introspection, not in the formalizations or expositions, but in previous and posterior acts, and that sometimes even you are surprised.


Therefore, those around you can only see you as a continuous development, as a result of continuous steps that overlap each other and that, at prompt moments, shape themselves in a mundane exterior, where they try to co-ordinate themselves with a whole. An interaction is looked for, an adequate confirmation is proposed, shall we say, a social valuation. However, in contrast to the normally established, where accomplishments are evaluated, in your particular case, you want for intentions to be considered. With all of this, I am not suggesting that your attitude is provoking, on the contrary. It is a search, and not a research, of the emotional resources that allow you to survive to a day-to-day adverse by the dominant mediocrity.


Well, I do not know if I answered adequately to your request, I tried… In any case, I would finish by saying that:

Grammatically, I did not know how to better express what Rute is, in her there is no beginning nor ending, she is simply a continuation, a prolonged, a constant, a maintenance, a duration, I also would like to be able to define her as being always eternal, but this I leave to…



…Rute Rosas…


Text written for the exhibition “there is no blue prince in the pink elephant



Água de Colónia (Cologne)


Agua de Colónia2 (...) arranges a mutual complex of references around the dialectics of body and mind. (...)

The video piece Talvez eu seja daqui (Perhaps I am from here…), directed by Rute Rosas in 2004, shows her standing in the sea of Prainha (Small Beach), Rio the Janeiro. Her frontal nudity, hieratic, is outlined against the dynamic background of the sea, whose waves incessantly reach the shore; the water falling on her head runs down her body and joins the sea which covers her feet and from which her body seems to emerge. The plastic and iconographic cohesion of the naked body on the natural setting, mediated by the preponderant presence of water, encloses a whole of connotations around the idea of regeneration and creative potentiality. (...) In iconographic terms, the sea indicates the rhythmic and cyclic movement of water, adjusted to the orbit of the moon, in its turn assimilated since pre-historical time to the woman’s cycle of fertility, in a symbolism of fertility that brings together water, woman and the moon, and encompasses all planes of existence, from reality to nature, for man and for the universe. Moreover, immersion is the equivalent to death or the cataclysm that periodically dissolves the world in the primordial ocean; immersion breaks all the forms of the past, restores fleetingly the integrity of the beginning, it redeems, purifies and regenerates, in a temporary reintegration into the formlessness followed by a new birth; those who emerge arrive clean, able to receive the new revelation, a new life. (...)

Underlying the symbolism of water there is, hence, the idea of re-enactment of the fabulous illud tempus of creation. The “living water”, seen as existing somewhere in the sky, pours down with a healing and fertilizing effect; life, strength and eternity are contained in this water that remakes the creation, taking out that which should be dissolved, restoring the primordial unity and propitiating the new creation. In Talvez eu seja daqui, as in other Rute Rosas’s pieces, Da Terra ao Céu (From Earth to Heaven) and Karnapidásana de 2004, the nudity of the body is auspicious and elementary, ontological: it signals the advent of the change of the mode of being; it exposes the individual vehicle through which one arrives to a non profane mode of being. The body that emerges represents an identity in its most divested condition, acquiring through the “living water” the creative fertilization of the place, in a regression into the primordial time, reinstating and amending the nostalgia according the first Brazilian avant-garde, as it is announced by Oswald de Andrade in his poem Erro de Português (Portuguese Mistake) of 1925:


When the Portuguese arrived

Under a pouring rain

He dressed up the Indian

What a shame!

Had it been a sunny morning

The Indian would have stripped

The Portuguese3

It is also in that sense that we may interpret the piece Baptismo/Viagem/Nostalgia (Baptism/Journey/Nostalgia) (fig.1), on a direct continuity with Talvez eu seja daqui. Baptismo/Viagem/Nostalgia is a shower device with the shape of a cylinder, protected by a curtain: a surge of light takes the place of the running water; the floor is covered with salt, releasing the mixed sounds of running water and of a Portuguese guitar, discretely spreading over the space of the exhibition. Baptismo/Viagem/Nostalgia incorporates elements of other experiences, namely from Da Terra ao Céu (From Earth to Heaven) and Karnapidásana of 2004, its iconography present on the curtain of the shower, that displays two large scale photographic prints of an image showing Rute performing a retroflex position with a double of herself. This position is part of a group of Yoga ásanas, performed for the set Da Terra ao Céu, and retrieves that universe of signification: the passage from a profane mode of being to a non-profane mode of being through a psycho-physical-technology that promotes the direct and empirical experience with the body/mind complex. This change or passage of plane of existence – a break through profane time and space that institutes the experience of a non-profane, non-quotidian reality – is suggested here by the symmetrical outline of the retroflex position’s image. (...)

The piece Mala do meu corpo… (Do meu umbigo de prata/Do meu beijo de prata/Do meu dedo de prata/Do meu mamilo de prata) / Suitcase of my body… (Of my silver navel/Of my silver kiss/Of my silver finger/Of my silver nipple) (fig. 2), displays silver replicas of parts of her body, a process the artist develops since 2003, set out with Beijos de Prata (Silver Kisses). The presentation of fragments of her own body is recurrent on Rute’s self-referential, multisensory and proprioceptive discourse, and includes experiences such as Fragmentos de Corpo (Fragments of Body) (2003), Porto 2001/Rio de Janeiro 2003 (2004), e Objectos Espelho (Mirror Objects) (2005). Rute explains these fragments of herself: «They are the woman’s donations: they are thimbles of seamstresses, navels of mothers, mouths that kiss and nourish, nipples that nourish and are kissed, sucked and licked for mutual pleasure, little fingers that button up their lover’s shirt». The expression of affection, preferably related to the deployment of the body/mind complex within the elementary actions, necessary for subsistence, tranforms these inanimate objects into something more that imitative representations of an original body; evocative replicas of the elementary actions, these significant fragments recollect the original actions of which they are the icon, ensuring that the former will never be merely automatic or meaningless, but events always charged with the vitality of the original action, with the availability, spontaneity and potentiality of the mode of being of the original moment. Hence, the fragments of the body express the original actions as so many daily pretexts to transcend the sphere of the profane, of the quotidian, in order to enact the passage from a profane mode of being to a non profane, or sacred, mode of being. It is this same original and instructive mythical structure4, where the repetition of a significant action is consecrated with all the energy of its original action, that presides to the making of Pele de Embrulho, wrapping paper, and Pele de Embrulho na TV Shop (Wrapping Skin on TV Shop) (fig. 3), video installation piece of 2005, in which Rute homologizes the act of embracing and the act of wrapping with the enveloping and affectionate sense of donation, gift or present: «When we hand someone a gift, we symbolically embrace that person. The act of enveloping/wrapping up the present is in itself an embrace». Complementary to the exhibition Água de Colónia, Rute is implementing a project of public art on the streets of São Paulo, entitled Abraça-me (Hug Me) (fig. 4), spreading on the walls between the space of the Biennial and Galeria Virgílio the image of this embrace with the word hug me in several idioms.


Text written for the exhibition “Água de Colónia”, a project in partnership with Isaque Pinheiro, Galeria Virgílio, S. Paulo., Brasil. October/November, 2006.


1 ANDRADE, Oswald de, Poesias Reunidas, (prefácio de Haroldo de Campos, 5ªedição, publ. orig. 1945), Editora Civilização Brasileira, 1978, p. 177.

2 Água de Colónia means Eau de Cologne and, at the same time, bears the strict meaning of ‘water of the colony’, a sense to be taken within a post-post-colonial context…

3 ANDRADE, Oswald de, Poesias Reunidas, (preface by Haroldo de Campos, 5th ed., orig. publ. 1945), Editora Civilização Brasileira, 1978, p. 177. On the original: Quando o português chegou/Debaixo duma bruta chuva/Vestiu o índio/Que pena!/Fosse uma manhã de sol/O índio tinha despido/O português.

4 See note 1.



On affectivity as a process


The work of Rute Rosas has been being built on the intersection of forms that denotes a strong vital impulse and the continued exploration of the body as a means of more or less auto-biographical registers. This auto-referential dimension acts more as a starting point by means of which the artist relates herself with her involving world, rather than as a means of questioning social dimension, aesthetic or politics. That is, the means of representation establishes a scale of direct relationship with the admirer, rather than a clarification on any type of biographical narrative. Thus, what has been stressed in the last projects of this artist is a concern with the process within these develops, rather than the conventional structure of presentation/reception of the proposals.

(…) The constant traffic between the affective dimension (the hug) and functional (the paper to wrap up) projects the intervention of the artist, as said, to a plan that tries to confuse the way we conventionally separate the sphere of love from work; of pleasure from productivity. (…)

This optimism and the above mentioned vital impetus that Rute Rosas projects’ denote violently contrast with the pessimism and the state of constant anxiety that contemporary society seems to be condemned to; however, weaving her creative strategy starting from a vision simultaneously ironical and sometimes conflicting with critical questions of the surrounding reality - as for example the roles attributed to women as far as private and public relations are concerned in our society, or in the visibility ways/distribution of the artistic work in a context strongly determined by the economic power that supports it - the artist seems to indicate the space of affectivity as a vital space for balancing the contradictions that mark the rhythm of our actions. Thus, it is with the small gestures and with the small pleasures that we can build positive alternatives to what seems to us inevitable and fatally determined. And it is receiving and facing all type of situations (…) that we become better prepared to know how to value simplicity and the energy of the happy moments from which we so irrationally move away in our daily routines.


From the integral text, in the catalogue of the exhibition Pele de Embrulho (Wrapping Skin), Galeria Sopro, Lisbon, October, 2005.





The poetical meaning of Rute Rosas’ art moves dissonantly between two much cherished subjects of the history of west painting: the body (picture) and the scene destined to it (landscape). However Rute’s choice for these ancestral subjects of the art is neither moved by nostalgia, nor by efforts of rehabilitation. On the contrary, her work seems to investigate what kind of connections between the body and the landscape would be possible in the art and in the contemporary world.


Perhaps from there results a first and enlightening option of the artist. The use of means of expression and of non conventional supports stresses the critical detachment of Rosas in relation to the pictorial representations of the body and to natural scenes created by the classical art. In all the work of the last years, her direct presence, in the case of the performances, or through icons in the videos and photographs that register them, it is vital for to enjoy and read (both syntactic and semantic) the work of this artist.


However, her explicit presence in the work doesn’t fit in the tradition of the self-portrait. (…)


Frequently naked or covered by a mesh glued to the body, Rosas seems, in some of her works, almost a drawing (an auto-silhouette) or a sculpture of herself. The emphasis is always given to the totality of her body and not to this or that specific detail. Sometimes she covers herself entirely, only leaving the face uncovered. In other occasions, she wears a mask, as an evident minimisation of the role of her face in the work.


On the other hand, the figure of the artist in the work neither functions as a basis for real and lived actions, without simulation, no staged and never represented, as professed by body art and by the conceptual art in 70’s. Against this disdain by the illusion, inherited from the modernism, but still active in the beginnings of contemporary art, the actual work recovers the narrative, the content and the illusionism, even though on very diverse basis of those of the pre-modern past.


Within the same spirit, if we examine the scope of Rute’s poetical inquiry and invention, the landscapes, we will come to the conclusion that pretty similar reasons separate her work from the logic of the self-portrait, from body-art and the from conceptualism, and simultaneously, they put her away from the classic and pre-modern landscape and also, from that proposal from land-art. These poles (body and landscape) that give meaning to Rute Rosas’ production are dealt in an emblematic way in her performance I through Parties Because I want Parties, carried through in Oporto in 2002, in the art gallery of Jose Mário Brandão, in the same night of the inauguration of the exhibition Inside of Me, of the same artist, in the Canvas Gallery. (…)


The degustation becomes anthropophagic, even though it is provisory. At the end of everything, among the brans that remained spread on the table, one can observe that the projected image remained untouched and that along with the cake the space which existed at a first moment vanished, but not the work. 


Between the real body of Rute Rosas and its registration in the work, made by the transforming mesh, between her projected image and the fragmentation of he background (cake) in which she was inscribed, between the register of the party and of the parties, and its later watching in DVD, there are so many mediations that we can no longer think the meaning of this work as a simple polarization between reality and representation.


I through Parties Because I want Parties gives us the idea of an equalitarian exchange, a changing flow between artist and public, but also between her person and the others (to give and to receive caresses is something of an entirely personal order), and at last, between body and landscape. There is a rupture with the old requirement of separation between subject and object (functionally different), fundamental for sciences and for art in the past. I through Parties Because I want Parties does not conceive altery as a polarization between permanent, fixed identities, rather as a transitive process of roles and functions as a web.


Taken from the integral text, in






In catalogue of the exhibition Mamã, deixa-me andar de escultura?! Galeria Serpente, Porto, September/October. 2000.


Once upon a time there was a little girl who used to play in the shed her grandma kept her behind the house.  After classes in the morning, she spent most of her time making up stories, characters, sceneries with the help of her dolls and toys as well as with all the little bugs living among the arum lilies, fuchisias and rose-bushes in the little garden separating the two spaces.


Grandma Linda, as everyone in the family used to call her, was a strong woman resistant to suffering and devoted to her first-born granddaughter. The perfect housewife. I remember that every Monday and Friday were scheduled meticulously as cleaning days.

When I got home from school, not far from the house, Tucha would be waiting for me at the open door, as grandma Linda already knew from miaow that I was near. Lunch and my place at the table awaited my arrival, just like that kiss. During the meal my grandpa used to complain about business to my understanding grandmother always devoted and supportive trying to ease up the problems. Afterwards he used to rush out while grandma would brush his coat on his way out. Then there were only the two of us and Tucha. It was then my turn to tell about what had happened in school, and grandma’s to report about her morning tasks, having the radio show Parodiantes de Lisboa as a background sound, making us laugh. Next I would do my homework as fast as I could so as to play till the afternoon snack.

Hum! The most delicious delicacies were prepared according to the time of the year and at my request: custard, sweet vermicelli, orange pie with jelly, pumpkin jam which we used to have with cookies, home-made butter we used to taste with toasts…


In the beginning the dolls’ little clothes were made by you. Grandma, with the cloth left from your own dresses. Sitting on your lap while you were at that old black and golden sewing machine you would help me in that to-and-fro pedalling which seemed unattainable at the time. It was terrible at night when it was time to go back home.

I wanted to stay with you but I also wanted my parents who sometimes would be generous enough to let me stay, especially on Fridays, for grandpa would always be late and there was no school the next day. In Winter evenings you would bathe me and ask me if I would look after you the day I grew up and you became a child again. I would say yes, but I admit the idea was rather disturbing. God! I would never thought that could happen.

We used to knit and watch TV, then while in bed we shared the electric hot water bottle for the feet, wrapped up with tons of woollen material to avoid burning our sheets and skin. Our bodies would fit and I would fall asleep that way as you would tell me old stories from the time when animals and plants talked. Yours was a hard life, but you were sensible enough to sweeten it with the tenderness of your voice.

At about the same time every month, we used to go to Praça da Liberdade to pay for the house rent and as we walked by that school I used to tell that I would attend it some day. The idea didn’t really pleased you but later you came to terms with the fact that was what I really wanted.


Whenever we went out, you took my hand so firmly that if I close my eyes now I can still feel the pressure and the warmth. You did that not because you were afraid I’d run away – which was likely – (“take me, I want to be free!”, I would say this every time I saw a dog and felt like jumping onto his back), but because you wanted to protect your treasure. I had a hard time when I first went to the nursery school though I felt it was important to be with other children. We spent many holidays together. I really enjoyed being with you. You were the most beautiful granny who listened to me and helped me with the homework and joined me at play time, that either kissed me or tapped me when I deserved. You took an active part putting on my “shows” for my parents to watch when they got home from work. I’d sing and dance and tell stories till exhaustion. They meant a lot of work: from the change of scenery, costumes, make-up to musical arrangements.


For years you took me to the ballet classes on bus 6 and you’d wait for me in that room filled with pine trees resin fragrance. In the end, you’d dress me up and take me back home again on 6, only this time we had to bear the sickening smells, the squeezing and bumping. If we were lucky we’d gat a seat. I’d sit on your lap and we’d travel hand in hand all the way.

I’m proud of having had you as my granny. You were more than that without having replaced anyone. You have and always will a place in my heart.

Every story has an ending, even those which don’t seem to end.

I miss you!