Article excerpt

Croatian artist Sanja Ivekovie's works, which range from private gestures documented on video to public interventions broadcast on television or erected in a city square, were never intended for museum display. Yet for "Sweet Violence," the artist's first retrospective in the United States, curator Roxana Marcoci overcame the challenge of presenting such formally diverse works in an institutional context. At once the starting point and the centerpiece of this exhibition, the large-scale Lady Rosa of Luxembourg, 2001, emblematized this success--it actually seemed made to fit momas atrium. Conceived as an outdoor public monument and dedicated to Rosa Luxemburg, the work responds to a prominent war memorial in the center of the titular city. The gilt effigy of a heavily pregnant goddess Nike is poised atop a soaring pedestal--Ivekovic's answer to the slender, idealized, allegorical figure of victory in the original. In addition, Ivelcovie substituted a plaque commemorating male war heroes with one bearing such words as kitsch, bitch, and whore. When the work was first unveiled in Luxembourg, these epithets triggered heated debates in the media, as evidenced by the abundant newspaper articles and television clips displayed alongside the installation at moma.

Born of the specific sociopolitical context of socialist Yugoslavia under Josip Broz Tito's Third Way, an economically liberal regime, lvekovic's militantly feminist art practice makes tactical use of controversy, which is an efficient way to put a message across. Indeed, throughout her career, Ivekovic has scrutinized the machinations of the media and has often turned them back upon themselves. For Paper Women, (976-77, she tore at, scratched, and bent representations of women in the pages of glamour magazines. …


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