Janine Antoni, CU- Ashley Ludkowski

Ashley Ludkowski

Visiting Artist at CU – Janine Antoni

I found Janine Antoni to be quite an interesting artist. She considers herself an artist of the 80’s even though she is still making work to this day.  In many of her pieces, she uses her very own human form to complete the process. This approach was intriguing and incredibly exciting. Using her eyelashes, teeth and hair were only the beginning of this exploration. Antoni creates art from the viewpoint of a woman and a mother as well. Her femininity is a thriving aspect in her projects. I found her approaches and conceptual ideas very enjoyable.

One of Janine’s early pieces, In Loving Care, was her attempt to be the model and master at the same time. I found this notion a complicated task, yet she did it with grace. Dipping her long hair into dye and mopping the floor with it allowed her to overtake the entire project, becoming apart of it as the model as well as controlling it as the master. Her hair was incredibly important to this project, bridging the space between model and master. Using her body became a clear pattern of hers as she began to display and explain her works to the audience.

Butterfly Kisses is another piece in which Antoni used her body hair, but this time it was the hair located upon her eyes. Sweeping mascara onto her eyelashes, she gingerly flicked a paper with them to record her movements. An exploration of woman and beauty, this piece was so simple yet rendered so much emotion and meaning. I thoroughly enjoyed its simplicity packed with the essence of being a woman.

Another piece in which Antoni used her body was Eureka. Here, she submerged into a tub of lard that slowly encased her body. The idea of submerging into lard is one I find radically uninviting. Watching Antoni complete this task was interesting to say the least. The way she explores the human body is quite wonderful. I feel everyone should acknowledge the beauty in the human form and explore its existence as well. Antoni is so obsessed with the idea she creates artwork devoted to the exploration, a dedication I look greatly upon.

The leftover lard from the tub was taken and shaped into a cube, of which Antoni showered with and further shaped. When the tub and worn down cube are placed next to each other, they create a wonderful balance of life. By washing herself with the cube, Antoni made something that began and ended with the body. She was literally washing the body with the body.

While speaking, Antoni prompted a question that put my mind in motion. “When are we most ourselves?,” she stated, “While showering perhaps? Indulging in Dinner? Lounging around at home?”  After dwelling upon this question, I came up with too many answers. Every individual is so different and daily lives are consumed with artificial enhancements. What does it even mean to be yourself? This was where I really began to think deeply. To be oneself is something Antoni is heavily influenced by. She even dug into her unconscious mind to discover what her body and mind were doing when she was not consciously in control.

Antoni created a piece that essentially sculpted her brainwaves while she slept. She was in her artwork while people could observe and interpret the creation’s that were happening. I would love to record my unconscious movements and translate them into a physical rendering that could be visually pleasing. The mind is so sensitive and amazing; to tap into it while the body is not in control is something I would love to see more of from Antoni.

Not only did I enjoy Antoni’s sculptures, but the few photographs she showed as well. The photographs, unsurprisingly, involved the human body. I especially enjoyed the picture of a tongue upon an eyeball, something that has stuck out in my mind ever since viewing it. Antoni’s work is playful and intriguing. Because I love the body and truly believe it is a temple, I can relate to Antoni’s obsession with it. The body is something of a mystery, constantly creating platforms for exploration.

As Antoni experiments and explores, she creates unique relationships between the body, a woman, a mother, and their relationship with the world around them. It was interesting to see her work progress over time as she came into motherhood. Originally working from her own personal ideas, the way she took her daughters life into her work provided another element that was extremely interesting. Antoni’s work is audacious and organic, something I found very intriguing. Her lecture left me with an urge to see more of her creations.

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