Nada Beros, Zagreb Museum of Contemporary Art, Curator and Coordinator
Nancy Doll, Contact
DIALOGUE AMONG DIVIDED WOMEN
Nada Beros – CROATIA
An indoor and outdoor installation of boxes from Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Slovenia was arranged by Nada Beros, curator of the Zagreb Museum of Contemporary Art. In addition, a virtual exhibition of boxes from around the world was projected on the walls. Women participants from Sarajevo were in Zagreb for three days for the event.
The six women artists whose works we are presenting as part of the international art exhibition Women Beyond Borders is a small but characteristic sampling of contemporary art in Croatia. We have endeavored to show the work of three generations of artists whose works came into play in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, and who either directly or indirectly interpret women’s issues. We believe that the heterogeneity of their art and approaches, ranging from post conceptualism and post minimalism to ambient and interactive approaches, plus the strength and relevance of artistic discourse confirms the liveliness and high level of achievement in the contemporary art scene in Croatia.
Sanja Ivekovic, whose work is based on conceptualism and feminist thought, is one of the most vital representatives of contemporary Croatian art. In her work entitled Ex/tension for the WBB project, the artist combines a post-conceptual approach with feminist criticism. On her assigned box, which she treats as ready-made, the artist draws out the essential nature of the elastic band, which has a very practical use in this work. The elastic band holds together the guidelines for participation in the WBB project, which are printed on a piece of paper and serve as a formula for the artist. The word extension, which refers to the size of the work, is interpreted by the artist as having a double meaning: that of past tension and of extension. She covers the box with multi-colored elastic bands– the kind homemakers regularly use to prepare preserves, leaving only the label of the product visible. The box thus becomes an object of soft, rounded edges, with an unrecognizable function, just as the role of the elastic bands is altered. (Statement from artist: “Please, put one rubber band over the box-let’s keep our spirit growing!!!”)
Vlasta Delimar is one of the most radical Croatian women artists. Her trademark, regardless of the medium, is her own face, which is most often a photographic self-portrait, sometimes interpolated in fixed surroundings of ambiguous meaning. We find a similar ambiguous message in her work entitled WHY? The artist perceives the box as a mother’s body, which she places on lace. a characteristic material that is frequently used in her work. With this lace she emphasizes lightness and fragility, just as the open box allows the body freedom and flotation. The artist’s photographic self-portrait is covered by a condom, quite possibly the most widespread and most advertised device in today’s world. It is no wonder then that this equally powerful and undesirable aid, blocked on the path between love and responsibility, the body’s desire and fear, is at the same time protecting the face while making it more open and vulnerable.
Jelena Peric is an artist who consistently continues the tradition of minimalism and post-painterly abstraction in her work. Her series regularly transforms two-dimensional models into structurally complex spatial entities. She aspires to relativize the artistic act and its uniqueness and particularity by using geometric forms, the square and rectangle, monochromatic and dichromatic color schemes, and an impersonal way of painting. In her work Untitled, she transforms the box into a post-minimalist sculpture with a simple gesture. By moving the box’s lid to its bottom, filling the newly formed hollow with pieces of red paper (the characteristic color in her work) and then setting the box upright, the artist’s “sculpture” simultaneously plays with the effect of confinement and openness as with the concept of handmade and ready-made.
Ksenija Turcic is an artist who committed herself to spatial work at the beginning of her art career. Her first works are still comprised of object-pictures, but they deny their painterly nature, testing above all spatial relationships, perspective, gravitation, flotation. In her most recent works, the material that is most often found in her installations and settings is the mirror. Simultaneously cold and sensitive to gusts of air and heat, hard and susceptible to breakage, light and dark, reflective and absorbent, this material shows itself to be ideal for the artist’s current considerations of space and our place in it. By covering the sides of the box with mirror surfaces–resting precisely one against another and constructing an inner box that looks into itself, into its own womb, into its own darkness–the artist creates an inverted situation. Instead of “expanding,” dilating the space, she destines it to disillusion and tautology. The title Open Me, however, explicitly guides one to its different life, to the game of light and reflection, change and transience, strength and fluidity.
In 1994 Ivana Keser began her project titled “Exhibition of Local Newspapers”, which was envisioned as a work-in-progress. For this project, she published only one copy of her Personal Newspapers project, dated February 25, 1998. Investigating the relation between the private and public domains, the artist wittily toys with the stereotype of uniqueness, which in itself ties in with some difficulty in reference to newspapers. “Personal discourse,” small dimensions, and the publication of only one copy is her way of paradoxically increasing the value of these newspapers, transforming this otherwise inflationary product that quickly dates itself into a work of art of universal meaning.
Magdalena Pederin is among the rare Croatian women artists of the younger generation who has methodically pursued new media and interactive projects. The miniature wooden box from the WBB project serves as an old-fashioned container in which she places LED diodes–indicators of the loudness of recorded sound. Contrasting two different types of material and two different technologies, the artist suggests the need for a new sensitivity.
The simple electronic mechanism is still while the box is closed. When the lid is opened, the battery turns on and the red and green bulbs begin to light up in unison with the increase in sound, entering from the outside including that produced by talking, clapping hands, and similar movements. By tying in the various sensors and materials in this interactive entity, the artist strives to revive the idea of modern synthesis prevalent everywhere, although we are frequently unaware of it.