Keynote lecture given by Leonida Kovač

Leonida Kovač held a keynote lecture on 3 September, 2021, titled “Nasta Rojc: Subversion of Normative Heterosexuality”. The lecture was introduction to the international conference Not Yet Written Stories in Warsaw.

Nasta Rojc (1883 – 1964) was a Croatian artist who in the period from 1908 to 1925 painted a number of self-portraits in which she practiced subversion of gender, or more precisely normative heterosexuality. In 1914 she painted drag self-portrait titled Me, the fighter, which is nine years earlier than the famous Romaine Brooks’ Self-portrait in drag with the ruins in the background. This paper will present part of the comprehensive research based on the study of the artist’s unpublished autobiography written from 1917 to 1919, titled Shadows, Light, Darkness, her letters from England from 1925, and her photographic archive. Among other things, Nasta Rojc was founder of the Club of Croatian Women Artists in 1927, and active anti-fascist during the WWII. Despite the fact she was recognized and appreciated portrait painter in the period between two world wars, after the WWII her work was practically erased from the historiography of Croatian modern art. The reasons for such erasure I find in the structural misogyny and omnipresent homophobia that prevailed until recent times.


Nasta Rojc in the Mosinkova atelier, 1915.