Annie Davis Visiting Artist Paper

Janine Antoni

            Janine Antoni visited the University of Colorado on March 6th to talk about her artwork. She earned her BA from Sarah Lawrence College, her MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design and moved on to acquire many achievements such as the Guggenheim Fellowship. Antoni works in many mediums, but most know her for her installations and performance pieces.

One of Antoni’s most renowned works, Gnaw, features a cube of chocolate and a cube of lard, both weighing around 500-600 pounds each. After they are casted, she uses her mouth to chew away at the squares, leaving them wounded. We are later told that the chocolate she chewed off was used to make containers for truffles, and the lard to make lipstick. Antoni jokes that this action chews away at the minimalist cube, deforming a very stylized art movement. She also notes that it was interesting to chew the chocolate and lard and have that result be made into something else, so that these objects somehow passed through her body before being made. It is an intriguing circle of events.

A performance piece of Antoni’s titled Loving Care caught my interest, in which the artist soaks her hair in a bucket of dye then proceeds to use her hair as a mop for the floor. She did this performance in a gallery space, where viewers could watch the act. As she moved about the room, there became less and less standing space until the viewers were pushed out of the room by her hair claiming the entirety of the floor. Antoni states that this piece was about being the model and the master at the same time, in that she was creating art but also dictating how her viewers would interact with her.

Antoni’s works are not only contemplative, but also extremely time consuming to create. For example, her piece Butterfly Kisses is constructed by using mascara applied on her eyelashes on a large sheet of paper to create a print. She did this thousands of times to create a scene. Her work is brilliant in that the outcome is thoughtful and also because the amount of time it took to get there is immense. This can be said of all of her work.

Though Janine Antoni shared many of her works, these three resonated the most with me. I find that they are the most exemplary pieces of her style and I really enjoyed hearing her explanations for why she made them, what they mean and other reasonings. We are lucky to have heard her kind accounts first hand, which is not a privilege many have.

2 Responses

  1. One thing that I really found interesting about the Loving Care piece was that it also contained part of her mother. Loving Care was the hair dye that her mother used. I really enjoyed hearing about how all of her work was connected so therefore having Loving Care empower Antoni her herself but also relate to her mother and that bond that they share was very powerful.

  2. I remember hearing about Antoni and her giant chocolate “Gnaw” pieces in class several weeks ago. I thought it was such a creative (and delicious) way to create artwork. It was interesting to read that all of the chocolate and lard she chewed off were made into other things, which I believe adds a little something more to her contribution in the art world. I like the time-consuming nature of her artwork, and one of my favorite pieces of hers is also “Butterfly Kisses”. I wish I could have heard her stories first hand.

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