This article develops the concept of proximity as socio-spatial distance by looking at the temporally and spatially condensed events of contemporary art exhibition openings. The article begins by examining some developments in proximity research, the limitations of theorizing the importance of proximity as mere physical nearness, arguing that potentiality renders proximity meaningful. After introducing the art event, we offer a three-pronged approach to proximity by showing the imperatives for being-there, the conditional indeterminacy of potentiality and the politics of proximity. In contrast to much recent research, it is argued that the significance of events is not reducible to evaluated outcomes. Two ethnographic vignettes show the imperatives, indeterminacies and politics in action. We conclude by showing how this conceptualization of proximity has analytic purchase beyond the empirical realm of contemporary art.