Contemporary artists we're loving

Sara Ramo

contemporary artists - Sara Ramo

Rather appropriately, Sara Ramo's works pack plenty of poetic punch into modest frameworks.

The themes that occupy this young, Spanish-Brazilian artist seem, at first, relatively straightforward: space and what it may (or may not) contain, as well as a preoccupation with the duality of order and disorder.

The video work Bem Vindo (Welcome), for example, focuses on a series of interior doors (left). Behind them, various objects seep, heave or creep into view: a seemingly never-ending pile of laundry; suds spilling beneath the door, or even a host of jauntily bouncing balloons.

How should we view these unexpected intrusions? The effect, in fact, is highly ambiguous. Partly whimsical, a light-hearted comedy, the surging masses spilling towards the camera are equally the stuff of nightmare, a horror flick invasion.

Sara Ramo

In another work, a photographic diptych depicts a bathroom in two states: its usual appearance, and with its entire contents hauled into view (left).

The second scene is one of well organised chaos. Everything is arranged neatly enough, but despite attempts to impose some kind of order, using the bathroom would certainly prove awkward. Then again, if it were emptied of these items - the shampoos, towels, cosmetics, detergents - many would also find it inadequate. Indeed, for those of us used to everyday luxuries, a bathroom at its most basic - a tub and running water - is hardly a bathroom at all.

As Ramo is fully aware, our readings even of simple spaces are highly subjective. The cup may be empty, or half full; it depends, of course, on our own perception.


If Ramo attempts to keep her works suitably open-ended, however, a clue regarding her own position lies in another video work, Translado (Moving house), below.

In it, the artist kneels beside a suitcase from which she improbably removes, Mary Poppins-like, a seemingly endless array of household objects such as a vacuum cleaner, a lamp, an iron and telephone.

Sara Ramo, video still

As we watch her extract an apartment's-worth of furniture and appliances, it's easy to imagine that, at heart, Ramo is disturbed by the sheer volume of goods that make up her everyday life.

As in the bathroom diptych, the artist seems to take a rueful view of the way we fill our domestic spaces and, indeed, lives with the trappings of conspicuous consumption.

'Living out of a suitcase' for many signifies rootlessness; for others, the freedom to live unencumbered by excess and attachment.

As if to emphasise this notion, at the end of the video Ramo clambers into the case and firmly closes the lid. Was she transferring her belongings to a new location or, in fact, symbolically discarding them?


One of Ramo's best-known works neatly encapsulates the multiple layers of meaning she manages to tease from deceptively simple scenarios.

The 2005 photograph Invasion of everything that was restrained (below), shows a corner of her studio crammed with floating spheres.

Sara Ramo, emerging artists

Although we quickly realise they are simply crumpled paper, the balls appear ruggedly rock-like, and the image's immediate resemblance to some bizarre meteor shower may well play punningly on the idea of extraterrestrial 'space'.

According to Ramo, the balled-up papers are essentially representative of discarded creative ideas, "the projects I never finished (which) are invading my space for real".

Besides the visual pun already mentioned, Ramo's conceit neatly encompasses various conceptions of space: an inner realm of personal thought; a period of demarcated time; and, of course, a physical environment in which to work and produce.

The various possibilities jostle together, as overwhelming in their way as the discarded 'ideas' crowding the studio.

And as Ramo further points out, "the picture is meant to be about more than my own personal life: it's about the life that everybody leads".

According to this young artist, space and order, both inner and outer, are precariously balanced for us all.

Mike Brennan


more artist profiles: Allison Schulnik | Oskar Dawicki | Joana Vasconcelos | Nora Schultz | Nicholas Hlobo | Tillman Kaiser

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