Sara Ramo

Real Jardín Botánico

The video On the Move, 2009, shows someone taking objects out of a seemingly endless suitcase that seems to have room for everything. Placed like a visiting card at the entrance to Sara Ramo’s exhibition at the Jardín Botánico, this work served as an introduction: It encapsulates the evocative power of Ramo’s images, as well as her playfully metaphorical use of objects and materials.

Born in Madrid, where she studied at the School of Applied Arts and Crafts, Ramo later moved to Minas Gerais, Brazil, and continued her studies there. This was her first solo exhibition in her native Spain, and it coincided with the Fifty-third Venice Biennale, where she is participating in the main exhibition, “Fare Mondi” (Making Worlds). Her exhibition in Madrid, part of the PHotoEspaña International Festival of Photography and Visual Arts, included thirty-eight photographs and seven videos produced during the last six years. Both shows demonstrated the artist’s connection to a specific moment, the mid-1990s, when she was a student in Madrid; at that time, a number of artists emerged who focused on materials and objects as vehicles for autobiographical and individual expression. Like them, Ramo has explored the personal and figural: Take Como aprender o que acontece na normilidade des coisas 1 (How to Learn What Happens in the Natural Order of Things 1), 2002–2005, a group of objects that is reminiscent of the work of Nuria Canal. Ramo also used her own figure as a model for her images, for example in Fantastico Universo (Fantastic Universe), 2004, where she dresses up as five different animals. Yet the artist gradually moved away from this use of the human body as metaphor. Unlike her peers from the mid-’90s, Ramo no longer attempts to personalize her materials; she does not speak of herself but of more general, less intimate situations. This is true of works from as early as 2005—for instance, Invasão ou tudo o que fico contido (Invasion or Everything That Was Restrained), in which a group of paper balls seems to actively take over a room, with no human bodies in sight. Likewise, in Alguns dias passados no espaço (A Few Days Spent in Space), 2005, four panels allude to the cosmos through images of domestic accidents—milk spilled on the floor, say, evoking the Milky Way. A escola qus bichos on o jugo dos sete etros (The School of Animals or the Game of the Seven Errors), 2006, only depicts fleeting figures on the verge of disappearing behind their animal camouflage.

In her more recent works, Ramo’s images have grown even more abstract, or at least sparer with reference to the human body. Dias Felizes (Happy Days), 2007, is an almost poetic, mysterious photograph of two chairs folded on a stage. Quase cheio, quase vazio (Nearly Full, Nearly Empty), 2008, consists of two parallel screens that show spaces from the same Madrid neighborhood. Because their details are so similar yet peculiar, they seem to trap the viewer in a labyrinthine space that always turns back on itself. Foreign to the life of any individual, Ramo’s objects offer a chaotic vision of the world.

Pablo Llorca

Translated from Spanish by Jane Brodie.