Performance is at the heart of Olja Grubić’s art practice, which appears in her work as a live event, video document or pictorial notation. By staging her own body, she explores the possibilities of freedom within the patriarchal and capitalist-oriented society. She is interested in broader social issues, such as the impact of social norms on the understanding of gender and gender identity, the presence of censorship in contemporary times and the issue of precarious work. She puts herself into an engaged position in her works and often uses elements of humour and satire to cut into the structure of everyday life.
She is presenting a selection of recent works at the Račka Gallery, including a series of drawings and video documentation of performances. Her projects address the issue of identity, the representation of women through the male gaze and the narrow perception of the role of women in society. She breaks down the objectification of the female body by exaggerating and repeating gestures of domination. Such a gesture is also the passive stance that appears in the video Ikebana (2018), in which the artist appears as a living still life. Her crotch symbolically represents a vase and a source of life for the flowers. The use of natural materials, such as flowers and vegetables, is a constant element within the art practice of Olja Grubić. It appears in drawings, videos or as part of set design. In the collective performance Naked Life (2020), made for a gallery space, six naked women performers stage the everyday kitchen task of grating vegetables, taking this gesture to the absurd. In the almost hour-long action, we observe repetitive rubbing, which is reminiscent of male masturbation. They change poses, move around the space, mingle with the audience, establishing an intimate relationship of closeness, which is at the same time a field of discomfort and embarrassment. The intense bodily expression is accompanied by a soundtrack in which the women performers intertwine the direct reflections of the event in the space with their personal stories. A recording of the performance is presented at the exhibition.
The desire for a social space beyond normativity, where difference is not a means of pathologisation but is encouraged, has been the guideline of the artist’s many drawings. In the objectless space, we observe many hybrid bodies, which, freed from the pressures of social reality, enjoy a naked corporeality. It is precisely the struggle for personal freedom and the choice of life through one’s own choice, which will not be the subject of neoliberal appropriation, that is at the core of the works presented in the exhibition.
Olja Grubić (1990) graduated from the Academy of Visual Arts in Ljubljana, on the Conceptualisation of Space course of study. She has presented her work in many solo (Manifesto: Public / Private, The Window Gallery, Paris, 2019; On the Other Side of the Rainbow, Pritličje, Ljubljana, 2018 …) and group exhibitions (Politics of Resistance – Račka Festival, Račka Gallery, 2019; Look at this vulva: Die Schone, Vienna, 2019; 4x Unconcerned, Equrna Gallery, 2019…). She manages the Cabaret Tiffany group together with Jernej Škof. She has carried out several performances as part of the Via Negativa theatre.