With Mary Kelly, artist, Los Angeles, and Sanja Iveković, artist, Zagreb
Concept and chair: Manuela Ammer


With Mary Kelly, artist, Los Angeles, and Sanja Iveković, artist, Zagreb
Concept and chair: Manuela Ammer

In the late 1960s there was an increasing politicisation of art. While painting was said to largely lack critical relevance, performance, photography, experimental film and video developed into the preferred media of social participation. These changes can also be seen in a redefinition of the relationship between art and the public. Art no longer sought its audience only in museums and galleries but increasingly in public space, on the streets and in the media. In particular the feminist art of those years, which linked political and artistic questions in a unique way, showed a heightened sensitivity to power structures that are inscribed in public space. The relationship between the body and the gaze, between freedom of movement and control, visibility and invisibility, were the focus of feminist debate with the social surroundings.

Two artists who have explicitly looked at this relationship since the 1970s, both in their artistic and in their activist practice, are Mary Kelly and Sanja Iveković. Mary Kelly, for example, was already involved in protest actions by the Women’s Liberation Movement during her degree course in London. In recent years, in works such as Love Songs or Flashing Nipple Happening, which appeared as part of Documenta 12, she has concerned herself with a younger generation’s perspective on the historic women’s movement.

In works such as Triangle (1979), on the other hand, Sanja Iveković deals with the interplay of power, the public and gender order as it was characteristic of Yugoslavia in the late 1970s. In 2007, with Poppy Field, she created one of the most impressive current examples of feminist art in public space.

On the basis of the work of these two artists “When Feminist Art Went Public” aims to go back to the point where the parameters of body presence and visibility in public space experienced a feminist shift, and to discuss current perspectives on the basis of this.


Presentations by Mary Kelly and Sanja Iveković followed by a panel discussion.

Mary Kelly
Mary Kelly's critique of conceptualism had its starting point in London in the 1970s and is influenced by the feminist theory of the early women’s movement, in which she was actively involved. At this time her activist commitment for working conditions, human rights and sexuality was also linked with the then new models of semiotics, of psychoanalysis and structuralistic Marxism, which have continued to influence her work since them. Kelly’s current work deals among other things with the consequences and historicisation of feminism, without becoming nostalgic in the process. Against the exclusion of feminist explorations of public space today, she employs a kind of theatrical, experienceable space that updates history and memory.

Sanja Iveković
Since the mid 1970s Sanja Iveković has been working with video, conceptual photography, performance, installation and action in public space. Her work features the confrontation with gender differences as well as the politics of images and bodies. Her artistic strategies include the analysis of media identity constructions as well as political commitment, solidarity and activism. Always also politically active, she was one of the first women artists in Croatia to publicly fight for feminist goals. In her early works Iveković deals among other things with questions of collective memory and collective amnesia, the war in disintegrated ex-Yugoslavia and with violence against women.

Curator: Manuela Ammer
Manuela Ammer is an author and curator and lives in Vienna.

Cooking, Schorsch Böhme



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