Igor Grubić: Gestures of Activation – Works in Public Space


Large-scale Retrospective Exhibition of Igor Grubić’s Works in Public Space Opens on Thursday, 20 June at 8pm

Under the title Gestures of Activation – Works in Public Space, Igor Grubić’s large-scale solo exhibition presents a retrospective overview of the artist’s multimedia creativity spanning the period from the late nineties until today. Around twenty works of a broad range of formats, from minimal gestures such as text, photography or performance, to projects aiming at goals beyond art, will be set up in the large hall of the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art. Public engagement is one of the fundamental stimuli of Grubić’s work, as underlined in the title of his first retrospective solo exhibition in Rijeka. He is preoccupied with the subject of social turmoil in the nineties, paying special attention to the processes of transition and privatisation, the burden of wartime destruction and responsibility of individuals in active social changemaking. His critically directed considerations are thus closely related to empowering civil disobedience, the implementation of different activist strategies of agitation and infiltration into the public space. Penetrating the soft tissue of pacifist yet unnerving critique, Grubić represents a peculiar example of artistic activism relying on the spirit of guerrilla-anarchist actions, in the wake of the legacies of historical avant-gardes and conceptual practices from the sixties and seventies, which stepped out into the streets to express institutional critique and desire for direct communication with the public.

The selection of works at the exhibition Gestures of Activation includes some of Grubić’s pivotal works, such as the iconic Black Peristyle (1998) or the action Book and Society 22 %, directed against VAT on books, with which he mobilized many of his fellow artists the same year in a unique event with a specific goal. In addition to Book and Society, with his actions Call for the Removal of the Student Center Management (2000) and No-ki-teka (1997/1998) Grubić lobbied for the changes of cultural policies in the nineties, and the photo-performance Breathless from 1999, presented for the first time, is a comment on back then inexistent institutional support to independent culture. The two-channel video installation East Side Story, included in the collection of Tate Modern in London, uses dance choreography to unmask the violence of ultra-right-wing nationalist groups in Zagreb and Belgrade, and the monumental photo series 366 Rituals of Liberation (2008) consists of micropolitical actions the artist performed daily over the course of a year. The exhibition includes the works conducted outside the usual post-transitional Easter European context, in which Grubić expands the view of the neuralgic points on the global horizon with interventions like The Missing Architecture (2021), as well as the latest series Another Green World (2021), a series of political-poetic statements and quotes, textual interventions on classical historicist sculptures in the city park of Villa Comunale in Naples.

Igor Grubić (Zagreb, 1969) has been active as a multimedia artist since the early nineties. His work includes site-specific interventions in public space, photography and film. He represented Croatia at the 58th Venice Biennale. Grubić’s public space interventions, as well as films, explore political situations in both the past and the present. Grubić’s critical, socio-politically engaged practice is characterized by long-term involvement and commitment to the issues he decides to address. From profound research of the fate of historical monuments and the collapse of industry, to examining the difficulties of minority communities, his projects are implemented over the course of several years of research and establishing special relationships.


Curators: Branka Benčić, Kora Girin i Sabina Salamon

Visual identity and graphic design: Ana Tomić i Marino Krstačić Furić

Education: Ivana Golob Mihić

Techical set-up: Anton Samaržija, Miroslav Šarić

Support: City of Rijeka, Ministry of Culture and Media of the Republic of Croatia, Primorje-Gorski Kotar County


Cover photo: Igor Grubić, Another Green World, 2021.  photo: ©Danilo Donzelli