15

– Spring/Summer 2007

Sanja Iveković's Women's Room/Frauenhaus project

Katy Deepwell

Sanja Iveković, Women's House, 1998-2003, installation view, Kölinscher Kunstverein, Cologne, 2006 © Egbert Trogemann, VG Bild-Kunst Bonn. Courtesy of the artist.

Sanja Iveković, Women's House, 1998-2003, installation view, Kölinscher Kunstverein, Cologne, 2006 © Egbert Trogemann, VG Bild-Kunst Bonn. Courtesy of the artist.

What does it mean to be named and read as a feminist artist or an artist whose work is understood as feminist? To be named as such is neither straightforward nor self-evident, and it is necessary to explain what is meant by this label and the terms of reference employed. I am struck by the fact that Sanja Iveković's work is discussed in these terms. I want to explore how this is understood and to discuss its significance in relation to one of her works, Frauenhaus.

Leonida Kovac, in the exhibition catalogue After the Wall: Art and Culture in Post-Communist Europe, names Sanja Iveković's practice as 'feminist'. She legitimately insists on it being seen in the context of feminist art practices because it offers 'interventions in the media of mass communications [which] always reflect problem areas in regimes of representation. Indeed, they deconstruct conventional meanings and in doing so indicate the ideological positions from which they stem.'1 Sanja Iveković made a new version of her work Frauenhaus for the central square Trg Bana Jelacica, Zagreb in 2002, and in this extended form the work can be seen as a series of interventions in representation. It stands in contrast to the work as it was first shown at Manifesta 2 in Luxembourg in 1998, where it took the form of an installation in one room of the Musée d'Histoire de la Ville de Luxembourg. Twenty plinths were arranged in a grid in the centre of the room, each supporting a different plaster-cast mask of a woman's face. On the side of each plinth, in place of the usual label of the artwork, was

Footnotes
  1. Leonida Kovac, 'Sanja Iveković', in David Elliot and Bojana Pejic (ed.), After the Wall: Art and Culture in Post-Communist Europe, Stockholm: Moderna Museet, 1999, vol.2, p.67.

  2. Bojana Pejic, 'The Dialectics of Normality', in D. Elliot and B. Pejic (ed.), After the Wall, op. cit., p.26.

  3. See Slavoj Žižek, 'Multiculturalism, Or, the Cultural Logic of Multinational Capitalism', New Left Review, Sept/Oct 1997, vol.225, pp.28-51.

  4. Yako Wang, 'The Women's Movement and Art', Mind and Spirit (exh. cat.), Taipei Fine Arts Museum, 1998, n.p.

  5. Theresa de Lauretis, Technologies of Gender: Essays on Theory, Film and Fiction, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1987.

  6. Rosi Braidotti, Nomadic Subjects. Embodiment and Sexual Difference in Contemporary Feminist Theory, New York: Columbia University Press, 1994.

  7. Mary Kelly, Imaging Desire, Cambridge and London: The MIT Press, 1997.

  8. n.paradoxa, vol.4, 1999, pp.42-43.