Sanja Ivekovic was born in 1949 in Zagreb, Croatia (then Federative People's Republic of Yugoslavia), where she studied at the Academy of Fine Arts from 1968 to 1971. One of the first explicitly feminist artists in Croatia, she is the initiator and founder of numerous political initiatives, including the Elektra Women's Art Centre and the Center for Women's Studies in Zagreb, where she has taught since 1994. Her work has won several awards at film and video festivals, including Locarno and Montreal. In 2009 she received the Camera Austria Award of the City of Graz for contemporary photography. She participated four times in Documenta 8,11,12 and 13 in Kassel in 1987, 2002, 2007 and 2017. In 2011, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York, USA dedicated a retrospective to her. Sanja Ivekovic lives and works in Zagreb.
Her photo montages, videos, performances, and installations, emerging since the mid-1970s, have been marked by a critical questioning of the mass media and their identity-forging potential. By personally entering into public discourse "be it in the shape of photographic representations in the media or as the actual protagonist of performances" Ivekovic brings out into the open the collective social codes of behavior based on gender-specific standardized patterns in the mass media. In her programmatic series of works entitled "Double Life" (1975), using the form of a dialogue, Ivekovic juxtaposes advertising images and portraits from her own private photo album (from the years 1953-75), exposing the parallels in physical poses and props. This strategy of confronting real life and media realities is one she has also pursued in works such as "Tragedy of a Venus" (1975), "Bitter Life" (1975), and "Sweet Life" (1975/76).
While Ivekovic’s early videos and performances reflect representations of womanhood within a traditionally patriarchal order, since the 1980s her works have increasingly placed the accent on issues of democracy and politics. In her video "Personal Cuts" (1982), she exposes media images as channeled visions of reality and reports on the construction of collective memory. These have been recurring themes in Ivekovic’s latest productions as well: The project "Gen XX" (1997-2001), and "The Nada Dimic File" (2000-2002), are devoted to female Croatian resistance fighters against Nazism. Using the example of these erstwhile national heroines of Socialist Yugoslavia whose names have today slipped into oblivion, Ivekovic exposes the mechanisms of collective memory and collective amnesia. (Luisa Ziaja)