Janine Antoni

I was quite blown away by Janine Antoni when she came to visit. She has such a lovely presence and wonderful way of making everyone around her at ease that I could not help but fall in love with her and her work. She is soft-spoken and utterly curious about her experience on this Earth and in her body and the work she produces reflects those qualities. Antoni is a sculptor and a performance artist and her materials vary based on concept, working between permanence and the ephemeral and sometimes finding that the boundaries between the two can blur.

Janine Antoni does a lot of work with her own body. She is curious about the human condition, exploring themes of beauty and femininity. In her work Lick and Lather she uses chocolate and soap to create busts of herself. She then feeds herself with the bust of chocolate and washes herself with the bust of soap. Doing this she slowly erases herself, witling down the features that distinguish her in an act of both self love and hate. For her it is a piece that speaks of her own image issues and a reflection of a larger issue with femininity and image in society.

In other works Antoni uses her body to create voids, left to reflect the human figure. In Eureka, she had herself lowered into a bathtub filled with lard. As she was lifted out the form of her body stayed showing the displaced lard as a cast of what Antoni is partially made up of. She then took that lard and made soap, again washing herself with a material of which she is made. In another work called Saddle, she kneels on her hands and knees and has herself covered with the wet hide of a cow. As it dries it takes on a permanent form of her body, riding the contours of her figure. In dong this she puts herself in the place of the cow, which usually covers our bodies, or saddles our vehicles.

She uses cows in other works as well. In 2038 she put herself naked in a bathtub filled with water next to a feeding troth for cows. The idea was to get a photo of her in the tub in relation to the cows around her. As it turned out the cows came and started drinking the water and serendipitously a photo was taken just when one cow (with the ear tag 2038) looked as though it was nursing from her. The photo again puts Antoni in the place of where the cow usually would be. We drink milk that they produce all the time and now the cow was taking its turn. This nurturing of the cow creates a connection and pays respect to this creature that nurtures all of us.

Antoni’s work does speak of nurturing in other ways too. One work that shows that is the images that she took of her mother and father. The idea was to show how spouses and those that are closest to each other take on certain traits resembling each other. In one image her mother and father sit side by side. The next image shows the same, but on closer inspection there is something strange. Antoni has made her father up as her mother and her mother as her father. The make up is wonderful, and the trust and love that is shown by her parents is obvious.

I found this artist to be a breathe of fresh air. Again, soft spoken, but also accessible and real, dealing with issues in her work that many people deal with in their own lives. For being a big name of the contemporary art world, she came off as extremely grounded and humble to the larger ideas of life and the experiences it offers. She takes those experiences, dissects them and finds the beauty and sometimes ridiculousness of them and shows them through her work. She is very inspiring.

2 Responses

  1. Good Job with this paper. You did an excellent job of allowing your reader to understand who the artist is and what types of works she creates. Antoni most definitely creates some interesting works!

  2. I really enjoyed this very descriptive paper. I was sad that I wasn’t able to attend Antoni’s lecture, but reading this made me feel like I was there. Great job!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: