Iva Ružić The art I’m interested in has always had a rebellious streak and a want to do good and bring change.
By Mary Truong November 2nd, 2020
Iva Ružić has experimented (and continues to experiment) with sculpture, painting and video works, but they note that many of these disciplines ultimately feed back into the medium that initially introduced to art: animation. In Ružić’s undergraduate thesis work, they created a meandering stop motion animation filled with bizarre visuals: frogs transfiguring into tarot-reading diviners, swords hanging on shifting walls, snuggling during road trips. Ružić provides richness in details that lures the eye and vibrancy in their scenes. Furthermore, Ružić’s art is fun to look at— in one animation, the frog-witch hoards a treasure box of jewels; in another, waves are created through the folds of jean fabric; in a painting, nude figures perform mundane actions (washing their hair in the sink, cooking eggs). There are small details that the viewer can fixate upon, lending the artwork a captivating quality.
Much of Ružić’s inspiration comes from the people that surrounds them: during undergrad, they say that they were able to build community with peers (many who were queer, like themself) and live together in a way that was comfortable for themselves. This experience influences Ružić thoughts of building suitable living places— “A lot of things that I think about is space, and how we inhabit space, and how we create spaces for ourselves…” With these thoughts, Ružić depicts commonplace, domestic routines (cooking, bathing, driving) turned queer. The queerness may feel unfamiliar and strange (who would fry eggs nude? Shouldn’t splashing oil be a concern?), but there is an undeniable tenderness to the domesticity of these scenes.
“This feeling of not belonging or not mixing well.”
Ružić has been contemplating a reading about our understanding of “dirtiness” and its relation to queer subcultures. They say, “what we perceive as dirty is when things mix that we perceive shouldn’t.” This perception presents a very overt association to queerness: a gender not “matching” certain body parts, a pairing of “incorrect” genders… the heteronormative perception of the grossness and dirtiness of queer relationships follows suit with ideas of nonconforming mixtures of personhood or people. This idea affects Ružić aesthetics; “bodies and things that bodies do” have no obligation to be “super attractive.” There is no need to craft puppets that follow conventions of beauty (or even conventions of beauty within the realm of art). Rather, existing comfortably with “strange” bodies is both subversive and natural.
“All these notions we have of families and relationships and what cohabitation looks like, it doesn’t have to.”
Radical is often interpreted in the same vein as revolutionary; that is, through the lens of disruption. Yet radical, through the framework of Ružić’s art, is not really about the violent overturning of hegemonic systems. It’s not death and endings; it’s life. It’s presenting tender alternatives and learning to love and care for others without social inhibitions, in a way most comfortable for yourself. “I’m really enchanted by the freedom I got to experience in crafting my life... I don’t have to depend on expectations of me.” The queer domesticity that Ružić illustrates hopes to provoke similar questions. “The structures that are in place, that doesn’t have to be what your life is. … You can just curate it for yourself, however you want to.”
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