Floodlit Room – Women’s Photographic Practice in Croatia

Tehnički muzej Nikola Tesla, Zagreb

Organized in two parts, the exhibition “Floodlit Room – Women’s Photographic Practice in Croatia” took place at the Technical Museum Nikola Tesla from 24 October to 3 December 2023, while the exhibition “Floodlit Room – Conflict” was held at the Ethnographic Museum from 26 October to 25 November 2023.

Because of advancements in technology available to us today, we often overlook the challenges women encountered in the past couple of centuries – ranging from the physically demanding nature of early equipment, through limited educational opportunities, to the lack of understanding from their environment for their creative pursuits, as well as prevailing social attitudes that restricted their more active involvement in photography, and various other endeavours. By exploring women’s visual perception and the politics of seeing, Sandra Križić Roban establishes the conditions for the presentation of women’s photographic practice in Croatia and their distinct floodlit rooms, where not only intimate scenes but also images that contribute to changing the paradigm of the so-called “women’s” themes in an innovative and intriguing way, become visible. Exploring the relationship with the body, addressing gender-related issues, socially engaged themes, documentary photography, capturing photographs in public space, experiments with light, as well as conceptual reflections on the artistic language – are only some of the aspects that can be considered through the women’s photographic perspective. Thanks to the individual and collective efforts of women photographers, photography has made a significant entrance into the realms of culture and art, providing interpretations of various aspects of human activities. In doing so, women cease to be “marginal participants” and move away from traditional value hierarchies. Thanks to these changes, their history ceases to be viewed as irrelevant and ahistorical.

Through the selection of 56 women photographers and their works, the exhibitions encompass a considerable timeframe from the second half of the 19th century to the present day. For example, in the earliest period of photography, we encounter works by Sofija Hering, Marija Kelemen, Johanna Kohn, and Julijana Erdödy Drašković. During the fin-de-siècle and the first two decades of the 20th century, we witness the emergence of photographic studios led by women (Atelier Wollner, Photo Varnai, and Photo Tonka). There are also active participants in major European artistic movements between the two World Wars, such as Ivana Tomljenović Meller, who studied at the Bauhaus, and Erna Gozze, whose aesthetics were close to the Bauhaus photographic approach, as well as those who experimented with the medium before World War II, like Anita Antoniazzo, and engaged witnesses of World War II (for example, Elvira Kohn and Đurđa Koren), all the way to artists who shaped the direction of media development after World War II, such as Zlata Laura Mizner, Slavka Pavić, Milica Borojević, and others. Also included are painters who occasionally worked in the field of photography (Vera Nikolić Podrinska, Nasta Rojc, Vera Fischer, Jadranka Fatur), as well as a large number of participants in the contemporary photography scene, from the late 1960s to the present day (Karmela and Anka Marasović, Marija Braut, Nada Orel, Ljiljana Sundać Zuani, Sanja Iveković, Erika Šmider, Edita Schubert, Kristina Leko, Danijela Lušin, Sandra Vitaljić, Ivana Vučić, Barbara Blasin, Ana Opalić, Marina Paulenka, Andreja Kulunčić, Glorija Lizde, Petra Slobodnjak, Petra Mrša, Dragana Jurišić, and others).

The intention of the exhibition Floodlit Room, as stated by the author Sandra Križić Roban in the accompanying publication, is “to point out the limitations within which women’s photographic practice unfolded, the obstacles faced by the artists, but also the importance and breadth of the meaning of photography as a unique medium upon which knowledge of both collective and individual contexts depends. At the same time, this exhibition is neither the only possible nor a comprehensive overview of women’s involvement in photography. Instead, it showcases the paths they have taken, the ways in which their work has been valued or eventually forgotten, even cast aside.”

Both exhibitions serve as a prelude to Sandra Križić Roban’s book, in which various aspects of engagement with the medium and handling of photography will be covered and explained not only from the perspective of historiography but also from the standpoint of scientific and artistic disciplines. This interdisciplinary approach allows for the interpretation of specific nuances and creates a multifaceted discursive space where the women’s photographic perspective holds a distinct place.

Floodlit Room – Women’s Photographic Practice in Croatia
Technical Museum Nikola Tesla 24/10/2023 – 3/12/2023

Exhibition organiser
Art Pavilion in Zagreb
Trg kralja Tomislava 22, Zagreb
[email protected]

Spatial concept and visual set-up
Mirna Horvat

Organizational support at the Technical Museum Nikola Tesla
Julija Gracin

Educational program
Irma Besednik

Sanja Balentović

Technical installation
Damir Martinec

Collaboration on the technical installation at the Technical Museum Nikola Tesla
Predrag Bosnar, Croatian Photographic Union

Exhibition labels
Ivana Završki, Leonida Kovač,
Sandra Križić Roban

Vanja Babić

Rafaela Dražić

Translation into English
Robertina Tomić

Production of works
Fini print

Reproductions of the original works
Marko Ercegović

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