Camille Breslin on Janine Antoni

Camille Breslin

Janine Antoni

            Janine Antoni’s lecture was probably my favorite so far out of all the visiting artist lectures that I’ve seen. Her diversity with material, natural beauty and connection to her personal life is portrayed through her work. Her pieces all correlate with the human connection and the body either through life, sex, or just simply through the act of creation and relation. Her interpretation on different topics is beautifully portrayed. Even though her most well known pieces like Gnaw and Loving Care are recognized, some of her side project had more substance and personal meaning that made me have even more respect for Mrs. Antoni.

The first piece that Janine Antoni opened with was Mean. This piece was the negative imprints mounted on a wall of her breast, her nipple, artificial nipples (baby bottle tops), and the packaging the artificial nipples came in. This piece was representing the separation from the mother to artificial ways to nurture. Antoni became interested and fascinated with this relationship of artificial replacement and the correlation with the body. “It was a breakthrough piece for her,” quote.

A piece that goes along of the lines of Gnaw is Lick and Lather. This piece is made either out of chocolate or soap casted busts of Janine Antoni. She casted the first chocolate bust and then soap bust to be a recreation of herself. From there she would like or lather and create another bust of the slightly alter original, until the final casting of the chocolate or soap bust was completely altered and looked disfigured. This piece was based off of making a public image with self-portraits, exposing herself to the public eye. Similar to Gnaw, this was the process of removing herself in a love/hate relationship manner.

One of Antoni’s pieces that became a happy accident was 2038. Janine Antoni went into talking about her trip to Sweden and how she came across this cow farm where the water troths were just old Victorian-esc bathtubs with the clawed feet. She was curious if the cows would continue to drink if she got into the bathtub. To her surprise, her photographer caught an image of a cow drinking out of the tub with her in it; but the image appeared as if the cow was drinking milk from her breast. Antoni went into talking about how we are weaned off of our mother breast milk and we develop a relationship with the cow’s milk as a replacement of imitation. Antoni wanted to contrast the intimacy between her and the animal and also demonstrate role reversal. Antoni also stressed how the animal is no longer an animal but a biological machine to feed the human population.

One of my favorite pieces in her lecture that creates this heart-filled sensation is If I Die Before I Wake. This piece is a cast of her hand and her mother hand. From those casts, she takes her hand and her mother’s hand and puts them together as if they are praying. She illuminates the two hands to create a night-light. Antoni said that her mother and she use to say the prayer If I Die Before I Wake before she would go to bed. This piece was in representation of her aging experience and the value of life.

Janine Antoni’s pieces and vast and wide array medium choices makes her a well-rounded artist with a lot of talent. Her creativity is never limited by size, difficulty, or material. She creates vivid and beautiful scenes that create a relationship that deals with the intimacy and relation between human, artificial or natural replacements, and the stimulation between the relationships. Her pieces are oriented around the fact that people have relationships and connection with other people and artificial stimulants and her natural fascination for both.

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