The exhibition entitled “Sweet Violence” opened yesterday, December 18th, at the New York MoMA and spans four decades of Iveković’s audacious work as a feminist, activist, video and performance pioneer. Iveković came of age in the former Yugoslavia within the 1966–1978 time frame, a period when artists were breaking free from institutional settings, laying the groundwork for a form of opposition to official modernist culture in an alternative movement known as the New Art Practice. Sanja Iveković is a feminist, activist and video artist presenting a series of one-channel video works along with new-media installations such as ‘Sweet Violence’ (1974), ‘Personal Cuts’ (1982), ‘Practice Makes a Master’ (1982/2009), ‘General Alert: A Soap Opera’ (1995), as well as the ‘Rohrbach Living Memorial’ (2005). In addition, her photomontages where she juxtaposes private photos with cutouts from women’s magazines from the show ‘A Double Life’ (1975–76) are also be largely present.
The period displayed and articulated by Sanja Iveković’s art is within the framework of an alternative movement known as the New Art Practice, a time socially, politically and culturally marked by student riots. Art initiated under this particular spiritual auspice strived to activate its own environment, negate the well-established esthetic values as well as the generational linking of like-minded individuals. By the very exchange of the word art with the syntagm Art Practice a new model of art was emphasized which pushed the artist’s activism onto the front burner. At the same time, along with questioning an artist’s meaning and purpose in society, the matter of art and its function are also brought to light for inspection. The intention of analyzing the phenomenon of culture, society, political and economical living conditions inaugurated new media outlets as forms of expression and research – photography, video, performance, action, spatial interventions, installations, ambience, etc. – for the most part questioning their conditions, possibilities, borders and results. Works initiated in that period are mostly conceptual or ambience-based, striving to shift the emphasis from esthetic categories to ethical principles.
Sanja Iveković graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb in 1970 and together with Dalibor Martinis stamped the foundations of Croatian Art Practice, which she has been a part of since 1973. Pioneers of Croatian video art, Sanja Iveković and Dalibor Martinis, have both jointly and individually, realized a series of video works and installations, and in their personal preferences represent the duality of media art interest from their perspective of conceptual artists.
* Personal Cuts
Sanja Iveković moderates social (feminist) activity through art by establishing the Women’s Art Center ‘Electra’. She carries out numerous video works and installations (in the work ‘Frozen Images’ the video image is projected on ice, in her 1994 work ‘Travel Until the End of Thought’, a computer induces a video projection of body parts into a stellar movement). She also works in other media. The ‘Gen XX’ Project is a series of works published in form of 1997 and 1998 print media advertisements. Portraits of top models are in photo reproductions while the supporting name (within the logo’s graphic look) is accompanied by a short biography of the same, as homage to political activism of the murdered woman – a heroine of the World War II antifascist battle.
* Double Life
The exhibition’s very name ‘Sweet Violence’, is the title of one of her first video works where Yugoslavian socialist reality takes center stage – the interweaving of desires and possibilities, with a simple intervention of pasting “bars” over the TV screen displaying commercials.
* Women’s House
The exhibition is open at the MoMA until March 26th, 2012. Click here for more details. The exhibition is supported by an extensive 200-page catalogue in which color reproductions of all exhibited works are published, along with an essay by the curator Roxana Marcoci, as well as a series of the artist’s own lectures and discussions.
* Right One