Close Up

1 - 31 March 2024: Close-Up on Yvonne Rainer


An American choreographer, dancer, and filmmaker, Yvonne Rainer is a pioneering figure of the American avant-garde movement with a career spanning over five decades across dance and film. Rainer’s artistic work has emphasized minimalism and experimentalism and has challenged conventional form to explore subversive political and social themes. She is widely regarded as one of the most influential performance artists of the twentieth century. 

“My films can be described as autobiographical fictions, untrue confessions, undermined narratives, mined documentaries, unscholarly dissertations, dialogic entertainments. Although my subject matter may vary from film to film, I can also generalize about intent and purpose: To represent social reality in all its uneven development and fit in the departments of activism, articulation, and behaviour; to create cinematic arrangements that can accommodate both ambiguity and contradiction without eliminating the possibility of taking specific political stands; to register complicity, protest, acquiescence with and against dominant social forces – sometimes within a single shot or scene – in a way that does not give a message of despair; to create incongruous juxtapositions of modes of address and conventions governing pictorial and narrative coherence so that the spectator must wrestle meaning from the film rather than lose him/herself in vicarious experience or authoritative condensations for what’s what.” – Yvonne Rainer


Lives of Performers
Yvonne Rainer, 1972, 90 min

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.


Film About a Woman Who...
Yvonne Rainer, 1974, 105 min 

Yvonne Rainer’s landmark film is a meditation on ambivalence that plays with cliché and the conventions of soap opera while telling the story of a woman whose sexual dissatisfaction masks an enormous anger.


Kristina Taking Pictures
Yvonne Rainer, 1976, 90 min

Yvonne Rainer continued her preoccupation with the contradictions between public and private personas with this story of a female lion tamer from Budapest who comes to New York to become a choreographer.


Journeys from Berlin/1971
Yvonne Rainer, 1980, 125 min

To explore the ramifications of terrorism, Rainer employs an extended therapy session – in which an American woman speaks to a series of psychiatrists – to evoke the daily experiences of power and repression.


The Man Who Envied Women
Yvonne Rainer, 1985, 125 min

Around a familiar theme – the breakup of a marriage – Rainer constructs an honest, graceful and wickedly funny account of a self-satisfied womanizer, Jack Deller, the man “who almost knows too much about women.”


Yvonne Rainer, 1990, 103 min

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.


Murder and Murder
Yvonne Rainer, 1996, 113 min

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.