Born in Zagreb (Croatia), 1949Lives & works in Zagreb (Croatia) Very active in: 70s, 80s, 90s
Sanja Ivekovic studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb from 1968 to 1971. There she began an artistic practice which was far removed from "official art" and the predominant tendencies in Yugoslavia at the time. In her work from the seventies and eighties she often used her own image and personal experiences as a woman and a citizen of an communist regime to show how the public, political and social spheres affect the construction of one?s own identity. Her work reveals a concept of identity as something complex and in constant evolution, constructed from the confluence of a host of dimensions and reciprocal influences between the public imaginary and personal notions.
The emphasis on the parallelism between the mass media and the private photographs blurs the distinction between original and copy, between model and representation, and invites us to think about the nature and origin of the stereotypes of femininity. Is it the mass media that appropriate expressions, poses and attitudes which are typical of female behaviour or is it women who, under the influence of those media constructs, have ended up adopting them? Ivekovicsuggests the influence of the mass media in the shaping of feminine stereotypes and turns them into elements of identity.
In many of her works from the seventies, national symbols and representation of the state play an important part, but the core of interest is not communist dissidence but the relations between gender and power. Her stance was a politically committed one, not as 'a battle against communist obscurantism and totalitarianism' but as a struggle for the pursuit of self-fulfilment by individuals and culture.
During the eighties and nineties, as a reaction to the political and economic events of former Yugoslavia, Ivekovic's art work took on a more marked political slant. It denotes a sharp awareness of the extent to which the media shape our understanding of the present and our perception of the past.
She uses television programmes, magazines, advertisements and news items from the daily papers to structure a micropolitcal reading of history and affect the recovery of the collective memory.
Throughout the nineties, with Croatian society influenced by the nationalist ideology, the war, the triumph of capitalism and the rediscovery of the market economy, the struggle against what was denounced as the cultural hegemony of the left officially accepted their antifascist legacy, although in fact it denied it by encouraging collective amnesia about the entire socialist era.
Since the early nineties Sanja Ivekovic has been an important figure in political activism and, through her participation in collective initiatives and public projects, has defended a critical concept of gender politics, undertaking a personal commitment to social issues such as violence against women.
Ivekovic, a conceptual artist, gives priority to the artistic concept and uses all kinds of techniques and media to formalise it. However, she shows an unusual capacity for putting her ideas into visual form and finding the right expression for each of them. In her artistic practice, a single idea often takes different shapes, changing from a performance to a video or an installation. She also uses different media to channel the ideas, often having recourse to infiltration strategies that enable her to go beyond the sphere of the museum and enter the mass media. Whether through the political and social content or the reflection on gender politics, her work turns a critical eye to the traditional power structures and analyses the relations between gender and power, constructing an artistic practice that has an unprecedented impact on the contemporary aesthetic and ideological debate and is always linked to a constant quest for human emancipation.