Urgent MattersSanja Ivekovic
Sanja Ivekovic (born 1949, lives and works in Zagreb, Croatia) is one of the key artists of her generation working today. Since the 1970s, Ivekovic works in a range of media such as photography, performance, video, installations, and actions. Ivekovic belongs to the artistic generation that emerged after 1968 with post-object, conceptual art known as “New Art Practice.” Ivekovic’s work can be characterized as a critical artistic practice, invested in the politics of image and body and an analysis of identity constructions in the media, employing strategies of political engagement, solidarity, and activism. In the (then) Yugoslav (and thus Croatian) art scene, Ivekovic was the first artist to adopt a feminist perspective in her artistic work and activist practice. Since the political change of 1989, she mainly deals with the collapse of socialist regimes and the consequences of the triumph of capitalism and market economy on living conditions, particularly of women.
From her early photography and performance, through to the major collaborative and public projects of recent years, Ivekovic has tracked the changing place of individual and personal values and how they appear (or fail to appear) in public. The constraints of politics, economics, and gender consistently serve as an inevitable backdrop to her works—a position that survives the changes of 1989, altered, but intact. In her persistent exploration of the border between the public and private self, Ivekovic subtly insinuates the collective responsibility we share for the things that take place around us. By doing so, without any moral exhortation, her art permits us to see more clearly the interdependence of things and the scalability of our actions, from small gestures to grand narratives.
Sanja Ivekovic participated in the 10th International Istanbul Biennial (2007), documenta 12 (2007) and documenta 11 (2002) in Kassel, and Manifesta 2 (1998) in Luxembourg. Other exhibitions include (selection): re.act.feminism – performance art of the 1960s and 70s today, Akademie der Künste, Berlin, 2008–2009; As soon as I open my eyes I see a film. Experiment in the art of Yugoslavia in the 60’s and 70’s, Museum of Modern Art, Warsaw, 2008; The Order of Things, MuHKA, Antwerp, 2008; Living Currency/La Monnaie Vivante, Tate Modern, London, 2008; Forms of Resistance – Artists and the Desire for Social Change from 1871 until the Present, Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, 2007; WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution, The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, 2007; Die Regierung. Paradiesische Handlungsräume, Secession, Vienna, 2005; Now What? Dreaming a better world in six parts, BAK, basis voor actuele kunst, Utrecht, 2003; and After the Wall, Moderna Museet, Stockholm, 1999–2000.
BAK and the Van Abbemuseum
The work of Sanja Ivekovic has been seen only rarely in museums and art spaces in the Netherlands. This two-part exhibition aims to introduce a new audience to Ivekovic’s work, and seeks to provide an understanding of the artist’s practice by connecting her feminist voice to the social, political, and historical developments in general, and specifically to such realities in Croatia, her country of residence. Ivekovic’s body of work performs a crucial role in understanding how European art has developed over the past thirty-five years. This exhibition presents a selection of key works from Ivekovic’s oeuvre from the 1970s to today.
The exhibition at the Van Abbemuseum focuses on more historical work from before 1989, consisting primarily of photographic series, collages, and filmed performances. The works are installed around the large vertical space of the museum tower, where a newer monumental sculpture, realized originally as a public art project in Luxemburg in 2001, Lady Rosa of Luxembourg, is reconstructed.
At BAK, a selection of more recent work is shown, including three new productions, amongst which a new version of the well-known Women’s House, a collective portrait of women from a local shelter for abused women. The exhibition is also planned to extend into the public realm with Ivekovic’s proposal to rename a city street in Utrecht after the Unknown Heroine.
As institutions, BAK and the Van Abbemuseum have collaborated on a number of projects in the past and we are delighted to continue developing our common interests with this extensive look at the complex practice of Sanja Ivekovic.