Visiting Artist Paper 2

Elissa Buchalter

Visiting Artist Paper 2: Janine Antoni


Janine Antoni received her BA degree from Sarah Lawrence College and graduated from RISD with her MFA.  Her artwork is mostly process based and has a performative quality to it.  She often uses her own body to create her works, such as her hair, mouth, etc.  She uses her body to create her art/performances by enacting everyday activities. Her work explores the issues of femininity, material objects, and the body.

One work in particular that exemplifies her use of process and body is the piece Gnaw.  In this work she took two giant cubes (each roughly 600 lbs), one made of lard and one made of chocolate, and gnawed away at them using only her mouth.  She used the bits she chewed off to form lipstick tubes and displayed them. This piece speaks to the themes she likes to explore of our perceptions of females and body image.  Most women would be terrified to chew off such large amounts of lard or chocolate because society tells us these things are ”bad” for us and the ideal perception of a beautiful woman is to be extremely thin.

Cubes of lard and chocolate

Another work of Antoni’s that explores her use of the body is Loving Care. Janine Antoni put ink and dye in her hair and then proceeded to use her hair as a paintbrush to pain the floor of a gallery while on her hands and knees.

Her work Lick and Lather she took seven heads made of chocolate and seven heads made of soap and displayed them on pedestals.  By having the large number of heads displayed in a blank environment she confronts the viewer.  The artist either licked or lathered the piece in a “loving manner”. The impact of her message of our love hate relationship with our bodies is stronger because there are so many heads all staring at each other.  Also the artist’s choice of material aids in her message.  The large collection of chocolate signifies gluttony, guilt, and sin while the large amount of soap represents cleanliness and pureness.  I like this piece because of the artist’s choice of material and how she chose to present it. I like the way the artist was slowly trying to “erase herself” through this process.  I also think the large number of busts presented are quite confronting to the viewer and causes them to really think about the relationships we have with our bodies.


One Response

  1. This paper was really well written and I enjoyed reading what you had to say about the artist. I found it interesting that you went into detail about each piece it was helpful when looking at the photos and referring back to what you wrote about each image. It was well written and flowed nicely through out the entire paper.

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