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Following Yvonne Rainer’s acclaimed dance performances at IMMA, during the month of July 2018, we celebrate Rainer’s extraordinary contribution to women’s cinema with a weekly screening of some of her most iconic films; Lives of Performers, 1972, MURDER and murder, 1996 and Privilege, 1990.

When Yvonne Rainer made her first feature-length film in 1972, she had already influenced the world of dance and choreography for nearly a decade. From the launch of her film career Rainer has inspired audiences to think about what they see, intermingling the real and fictional, the personal and political, the concrete and abstract in imaginative, unpredictable ways. Her bold feminist sensibility and often controversial subject matter, leavened with a quirky humour, has made her, one of the most influential American avant-garde filmmaker in recent decades, with an impact as evident in London or Berlin as in New York.

To address the Rainer’s remarkable influence as a film-maker, a critical  discussion accompanies this screening series. More details to come.


Friday 13 July 2018, 2.00pm / Lecture Room, Drop In
Yvonne Rainer – Lives of Performers, 1972, 90mins / 1hr, 30mins.
Film Format: 16mm / DVD, B&W

A stark and revealing examination of romantic alliances, Lives of Performers examines the dilemma of a man who can’t choose between two women and makes them both suffer. Originally part of a dance performance choreographed by Rainer. Lives of Performers begins, fittingly, with a rehearsal. Cinematographer Babette Mangolte’s roving camera arcs across the bodies of dancers as they commit a pattern of movement to memory, and this image—of a work in the process of becoming—serves as an emblem of sorts for Rainer’s film, which stages a familiar story of infatuation and uncertain feeling in an unorthodox fashion. As a love triangle between a man and two women plays out as a series of tableaux against an austere backdrop, the particulars of its development are revealed largely through off-camera line readings and fragments of on-screen text.  See further details here.

Friday 20 July 2018, 2.00pm / Lecture Room, Drop
Yvonne Rainer – MURDER and Murder, 1996, 113mins / 1hr, 53mins.
Film Format: 16mm / DVD, Color

MURDER and murder is a middle-aged love story between Mildred, a life-long lesbian, and Doris, who is in love with a woman for the first time. An unflinching meditation on female aging, lesbian sexuality and breast cancer in a culture that glorifies youth and heterosexual romance. MURDER and murder is an unflinching look at female aging, lesbian sexuality and breast cancer in an age and culture that glorifies youth and heterosexual romance. In her 7th feature film, director Yvonne Rainer delivers an emotionally courageous, intellectually challenging work which is at once soap opera, black comedy, love story and political meditation.Cast: Joanna Merlin, Kathleen Chalfant, Caherine Kellner, Isa Thomas, Yvonne Rainer, Alice Playten, Kendal Thomas, Rod McLachlan, Jennie Moreau, Sasha Martin, Barbara Haas, Rainn Wilson. See further details here.

Friday 27 July 2018, 2.00pm / Lecture Room, Drop In
Yvonne Rainer – Privilege, 1990, 103mins / 1hr, 43mins.
Film Format: 16mm / DVD, Color and B&W

Yvonne Rainer’s sixth feature is a genuinely subversive movie about menopause. Out of a subject that has been virtually invisible on film, Rainer has fashioned a witty, risky work about sexual identity and the unequal economies of race, gender and class. Privilege is an intelligently conceived, boldly anarchic, and wickedly insightful exposition on the culturally ingrained and socially divisive malaise of isms that artificially define and characterize empowerment in contemporary society: ageism, sexism, economic elitism, and racism.  Rainer conveys texture through the inter-cutting of archival footage, video, and film – as well as compositional layering through the film-within-a-film structure, elliptical (and self-referential) fusion of past and present, and the filmmaker’s idiosyncratic penchant for superimposed typed text. See further details here.


Yvonne Rainer’s work in the cinema can be seen as a milestone, marking a point of no return for women’s cinema and daring the cinema more generally to look for new directions. Her movies are so infused with the immediacy of personal struggle with life and its representations, that they resist monumental categorization or historic institutionalization. With a rare mixture of passion and irony, Rainer creates and then questions, making intricate patterns of restless instability. She guides the audience through stories, situations, characters and crises of all kinds with the deft hand of someone who knows her own minefield. Laura Mulvey, 1989



About the Artist

Yvonne Rainer b.1934

Moving from San Francisco to New York in 1956, Yvonne Rainer studied dance at the Martha Graham School, while learning ballet at Ballet Arts. By the early 1960s, she had participated in Anna Halprin’s workshops, become a protégé of John Cage and Merce Cunningham, and was fully immersed in the New York performance scene.
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Important Notice


We would like to advise our visitors that our Main Reception area is closed for renovation from 22 April until mid-June.  A temporary reception is open on the ground floor next to the original main entrance. While we prepare to open our next exhibition Hilary Heron: A Retrospective on 24 May, there are two exhibitions to see Derry Film & Video Workshop and Self: Determination: Artists Commissions. IMMA’s gardens and café are open to the public.