Artist Paper

Griffin Beste

Artist Lecture

Contemporary Art History

Janine Antoni


            It’s a valuable opportunity to be able to see an artist presenting their work as themselves; you gain a greater connection to the work as they are explained personally instead of somewhat objectively. The creative environment where the floor is opened to the audience at the end of the lecture presented the one on one interaction that many people, including myself desire to be able to close some gaps in between our thoughts and perceptions of the work that was presented. In presence Janine was a regular looking woman surprisingly, and her work showed every day activities such as bathing, eating, and sleeping and creating works of art from “regular” activities. Though Janine is normal in appearance and at first glance the topics of her work are short of grandeur status, her and her work are anything but “normal”.

Janine’s work spoke to me in a primitive way, talking about how nurturing and fragile people are, it made me think about how we are as a collective of human beings. The strongest elements of her work would have to be the choice of materials as well as the way in which she presents the pieces. For example she created a piece with 600 pounds of chocolate and 500 pounds of lard in which she chewed on the cubes with her teeth and called it “gnaw”. The way she presented the work and the messages that were behind it were phenomenal she talked about materiality and the nature of fat being hard to control in human bodies and she used the amounts she chewed off to create consumerists things like lipstick and a heart shaped box of chocolates: I guess I also admire her resourcefulness.

Janine’s methods are very interesting, an example of this is the way that she shows an idea where she gets close and personal with the floor, and uses her hair and dye she mopped the floor as a kind of performance that she called “loving care”. One of my favorite artists of all time is Jackson Pollock and the way he uses abstract expression to paint, Janine Antoni was emulating this movement in this piece. Her concepts always have some message regarding some personal connection to the work; in this piece she literally mopped people out of the room creating tension as she pushed them out of the space.

One of her most gripping pieces was called “lick and lather” where she cast herself seven times in chocolate and soap. She created a self-portrait on all the casts, where she licked the features on her face with the chocolate busts until they were unrecognizable and washed her self in a bathtub with the soap casts. There was this concept she portrayed in the lecture regarding this conflict of self-identity, in fact this piece basically said that she was “washing herself away, or erasing herself”. This piece was presented as a love hate relationship with appearances.

I am pretty positive that the artist’s intention with her work was to show how she struggles with her identity just like everyone else. She uses her work to define whom she is and what it is that she battles with. I continually got a sense of identification and struggle through all of her pieces, which in turn made all of her work strike a personal chord in my heart. She ended her presentation by reading this beautifully written piece of poetry that she had a museum secretly slip into people’s coats when they checked them that was intrusive but the very nature of the work was innocent and full of passion. I feel like she is, and her work are very honest, and that’s what makes he work ultimately so appealing and deserving of recognition.


One Response

  1. I liked your description of Antoni’s work in relation to identity. The honesty of her work is a great angle for an essay such as this. I do think the essay overall would be improved with more punctuation and the addition of more sources, but the base of your essay is very strong.

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