Sanja Iveković

Sanja Iveković (1949, Zagreb) currently lives and works in Zagreb, Croatia. She was raised in the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and belongs to the artistic generation covered by the umbrella term New Art Practice, which emerged after 1968. Iveković continuously contested the role of art in society through a wide range of media, at the points of intersection between gender, nation, and class. Her work from the 1990s deals with the collapse of socialist regimes and with the consequences of the triumph of capitalism and the market economy over living conditions, particularly for women. She has participated in numerous international biennials and major exhibitions.

Performance, 1976

This action was performed on the day of the artist's first big solo museum show. She stood at the entrance of the exhibition with an amplified stethoscope pressed against her heart, so that the sound of its beating was transmitted through the loudspeakers in the space. Since she had tape over her mouth, she did not speak with the visitors who were entering the gallery. The work was a stark comment on repression and authoritarianism in Yugoslavia.

Isn’t She Too Old for This? (On Witches)
Photo collage, drawing, 2013

This project contains historical and contemporary imagery and texts related to the figures of witches and witch hunts. These stark and infamous historical drawings of witches, dating from medieval times, are juxtaposed with numerous contemporary examples of stigmatizations and witch hunts of women. This contrast shows that the efforts of patriarchal structures to silence and repress women continue today. Examples of this series of photocollages include the Witches of Rio, a Croatian case of a contemporary “witchhunt”, the imprisonment of members of the Russian punk group Pussy Riot, and various cases of women being burned in Africa (as mentioned in research, and last year’s articles, by feminist scholar Silvia Federici. Federici’s work inspired Iveković to make this piece).

New Zagreb (People behind the windows)
Photo collage, digital print, 1979

This work is an enlarged copy of an intervention that the artist made of a black and white newspaper photograph, documenting Yugoslav president Josip Broz Tito’s ceremonial visit to Zagreb with his wife Jovanka in 1979. For security reasons, all inhabitants of the streets that the parade accompanying the president would pass through were asked to stay away from windows and balconies, and to keep windows closed, with shutters pulled down. As could be discerned from the photograph of the motorcade published in a local newspaper, however, many citizens disobeyed the order and watched the parade from their balconies. The artist colored all such balconies red, blue, and yellow, creating a geometric composition. This composition, together with the rectangular grid of the modernist building depicted, recalled a Piet Mondrian painting.

Practice Makes a Master
Video, 1982

Iveković's 1982 video performance Practice Makes a Master is a haunting piece, in which an anonymous hooded woman repeatedly struggles to her feet and is then seemingly shot down by an unseen assailant, sprawling theatrically on the floor before rising again and then falling again. The visuals are accompanied by an incongruous, disturbing audio mix of gambling machine jingles and Marilyn Monroe movie soundtracks.