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Ignored for decades by official art history, Italian artist Carol Rama is now recognised as essential for understanding developments within contemporary art. Her influence can be seen in the work of a later generation of artists such as Cindy Sherman, Kara Walker, Sue Williams, Kiki Smith and Elly Strik. Rama was belatedly recognised in 2003, receiving the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale, one of the most prestigious international art exhibitions.

This is the first substantial exhibition of Carol Rama’s work and comes to Dublin following exhibitions in MACBA, Barcelona, Musée d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris, and EMMA, Finland. With a selection of almost two hundred works, the exhibition offers a guide through the artist’s many creative moments. Neither exhaustive nor retrospective, The Passion According to Carol Rama is the most extensive presentation of the work of this artist to date. It acts as an attempt to recognise and restore a life’s work still unknown but nevertheless slated to become classic.

Born in 1918 in Turin, Carol Rama – never academically trained or faithful to individual art movements – developed a body of work over seven decades that is as unique as it is obsessive, Rama experimented with alternative materials, developing techniques for inventing new spaces of desire and her work challenges the dominant narratives around sexuality, madness, animalism, life and death.

Exhibition conceived by the Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA) and the Musée d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris (MAMVP), organised by MACBA and co-produced with PARIS MUSÉES / MAMVP, EMMA – Espoo Museum of Modern Art, IMMA – Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin and GAM – Galleria Civica d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Torino. Curated by Teresa Grandas (MACBA, Barcelona) and Paul B. Preciado (documenta 14); Anne Dressen (MAMVP, Paris).

Visitors are advised that this exhibition contains adult themes and some explicit imagery.

Talks and Events

The Passion According to Carol RamaCurators Conversation
Wed 23 March, 6.30pm – 7.30pm / Johnston Suite / FREE

Curators Teresa Grandas and Paul B. Preciado (dOCUMENTA 14) explore how Rama’s work offers anarchic representations of female sexuality, gender and politics which allow an essential revision of avant-garde movements of the last century. Followed by the exhibition preview and opening party. Listen back to this talk.

What is Phenomenology? Francis Halsall and Declan Long
Sat 16 April, 12noon, Lecture Room

Continuing with the talk series What is…? This talk introduces the theoretical framework of phenomenology as a concept to explore the structure of consciousness, aesthetics and our experiences of the contemporary art object. What is_? Theory Strand is in collaboration with MA Art in Contemporary World, NCAD. Listen back to this talk.

Curators Lunchtime Talks
Fri 6 May, 1.15 – 2pm / Meeting Point, Main Reception / FREE
Join Rachael Thomas, Head of Exhibitions, IMMA for an insightful walk through of the exhibition. No booking required.

Seminar | Sexuality, Identity & the State
Wed 22 June, 2pm

Comprising of presentations by artists, writers, curators, educators and psychoanalysts, this seminar address issues of gender, sexuality, identity and the state as it relates to the work of artists, Patrick Hennessey, Carol Rama and others. Participants will draw on queer theory, feminism and psychoanalysis across a wide range of disciplines, considering wider research agendas that span the history of art, culture and society. Chaired by Dr Noreen Giffney (psychoanalytic psychotherapist, and writer on desire, gender and sexuality studies issues). Speakers include Sean Kissane (IMMA), Riann Coulter (F. E Mc William Gallery), Eibhear Walshe (Senior lecturer in the School of Modern English at University College Cork) and others.

This seminar is a continuation of the IMMA Modern Irish Masters Series,which aims to uncover different historical perspectives on an artist’s body of wor. The aim of this seminar is to provide the public with a deeper insight into the thinking and making of artist’s work where its subject matter address themes of gender, sexuality, desire and identity, in dissent to the state.
Listen back to the full days seminar on our Soundcloud channel presented in two parts  Part 1 and Part 2

Live Performance: Listen, Hissen, Hessin!
Wed 22 June, 6.30pm – 8pm, East Wing Galleries

Listen, Hissen, Hessin! is a one-night event happening throughout the Carol Rama exhibition. A roving soundscape, it is performed live over the course of the evening by six Dublin based visual artists working under the aegis of Hissen, featuring Karl Burke, Jessica Conway, Teresa Gillespie, Jonathan Mayhew, Suzanne Walsh and Lee Welch. This will be their first public performance as a six-piece experimental sound group. View photos from the live event here.

Lecture: Griselda Pollock – Carol Rama, Creative Practices as Dissidence in the Feminist Century
Tues 12 July

Re-thinking the Twentieth Century with Carol Rama and Modernist Artist-Women : Creative Practice as Dissidence in the Feminist Century
Internationally acclaimed feminist theorist and art historian, Griselda Pollock is known for her consistent generation of feminist theory and new forms of visual and aesthetic analysis. Over forty years Pollock has explored the complex relations between femininity, modernity, and representation in modern and contemporary art, film and cultural theory. In this lecture Pollock will use the work of Carol Rama as a focus for a reconsideration of artist-women as figures of creative dissidence in modernist art and culture, reminding us of the radical gestures of feminist resistance to the perpetual menace of fascist thinking in all its forms. Listen back to this talk

Putting Framing in the Picture
Sunday 17 July, 2.30pm, no booking required, meet at main reception

Join Yvonne Woods from our Visitor Engagement Team for a fascinating tour of the stunning frames in our current exhibitions The Passion According to Carol Rama and Patrick Hennessy De Profundis. This tour will look at the values of framing and how it can change our view of the works it holds.

Artist Performative Response: Carol Rama/Aideen Barry
Wed 20 July, 7pm

Working between the personnel and kinetic, artist Aideen Barry presents a live performative film that invites the public to experience contested spaces of the domestic, studio and gallery as it relates to ideas of obsession, claustrophobia, and femininity in both artists’ practice.

Additional Resources

Carol Rama IMMA Gallery Guide

Click here to read the original MACBA Gallery Guide

Watch an introduction video about Carol Rama and the exhibition.

Listen to a review of the exhibition from Arena on RTÉ Radio 1.

Read a review in Totally Dublin.

Read Artist’s Voice: holding onto nothing a blog by artist Teresa Gillespie, her response to The Passion According to Carol Rama

Read “In the Flesh”, an article about an author’s meeting with Carol Rama, published in Frieze Magazine 2004.

Read two in-depth essays by curators Teresa Grandas and Paul B Preciado published in the exhibition catalogue available from the IMMA Shop:

THE REST CAN GO TO HELL: Other Possible Tales of Carol Rama and Turin by Teresa Grandas.


Media Release

Exhibition Catalogue

The exhibition is accompanied by a fully-illustrated catalogue with contributions by Anne Dressen, Maurizio Cattelan, Melissa Logan and Alexandra Murray-Leslie (Chicks on Speed), Lea Vergine, Teresa Grandas, Paul B. Preciado, and an interview by Corrado Levi and Filippo Fossati with the artist, amongst others.

Available at the IMMA Shop on the first floor of the main galleries.