MoMA Presents: Sanja Ivekovic: Sweet Violence
by Daniel Haim
The first museum exhibition in the United States of the work of Sanja Iveković (b. 1949, Zagreb) covers four decades of the artist’s remarkable practice. A feminist, activist, and video pioneer, Iveković came of age in the early 1970s during the period known as the Croatian Spring, when artists broke free from mainstream institutional settings, laying the ground for a form of praxis antipodal to official art. Part of the generation known as the Nova Umjetnička Praska (New Art Practice), Iveković produced works of cross-cultural resonance that range from conceptual photo-montages to video and performance.
This exhibition brings together a historic group of single-channel videos and media installations, including Sweet Violence (1974),Personal Cuts (1982), Practice Makes a Master (1982/2009), General Alert (Soap Opera) (1995), and Rohrbach Living Memorial (2005). Among the 100 photo-montages featured in the exhibition is Iveković´s celebrated series Double Life (1975–76), for which the artist juxtaposed pictures of herself culled from her private albums with commercial ads clipped from the pages of women´s magazines such as Elle, Grazia, Brigitte, and Svijet.
While in the 1970s Iveković probed the persuasive qualities of mass media and its identity-forging potential, after 1990—following the fall of the Berlin Wall, the disintegration of Yugoslavia, and the birth of a new nation—she focused on the transformation of reality from socialist to post-socialist political systems. Iveković offers a fascinating view into the official politics of power, gender roles, and the paradoxes inherent in society´s collective memory. The exhibition is organized by Roxana Marcoci, Curator, Department of Photography, The Museum of Modern Art, and will be accompanied by a major publication.