Janine Antoni

Janine Antoni is an artist from the Bahamas. She was born there in 1964. She moved to America and received her BA from Sarah Lawrence College in New York and later received her MFA from the Rhode Island school of Design in 1989. From the visiting artist lecture series, I learned that her art consists of mixing two different mediums. These mediums include sculpture and performance art. Her art doesn’t just use these two mediums as separate types of mediums, but also mixes and blurs them together at times.

            To begin, Janine Antoni discussed one of her more notable pieces titled “Gnaw.” This piece was done in 1992 and was featured in MoMa. In this piece Antoni, used her mouth to gnaw and carve a 600 lb cube of chocolate and a 600lb cube of lard. This is an example that she is using the two mediums of performance and sculpture together. In describing her pieces, she said that the lard cube fell apart during the sculpture process. She described that the piece was to be about the materialistic and that she didn’t mind that it fell apart. Instead she accepted that because it was about the material, that the piece was completed when it fell apart. In the end, she told us that she made the lard into 150 lipsticks and the chocolate she boxed. The idea behind the pieces was from the ideas of minimalistic art. In the minimalist era of Art History, there were many artists that were working with the cube as an art object. Antoni used this same concept with her “Gnaw” piece and found it “clever because she was chewing on the minimalist cube.” In my own opinion, I think this piece is a parody on the minimalist cube. By destroying it by gnawing on it, she was trying to show how she really felt about the minimalist cube.

            Another piece that I found interesting was the piece called “Slumber.” In this piece, Antoni wanted to represent the dream as a physical representation. She wanted to attach herself to a psychoanalysis machine that would record her sleep patterns. She wanted them to become recorded onto the blanket that she was sleeping in. According to the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art website, Antoni will spend 8 days in the museum sleeping and recording her dreams using a electroencephalograph and during the day she will use the REMs that the machine recorded to weave the pattern into the blanket she sleeps on.  I found this piece really interesting for one reason; I had never really seen anything like it. The thought of a person wanting to turn the movements of their eyes while dreaming into a work of art was really compelling and interesting. Also, I found it interesting because not only was the blanket the piece of art, but also the artist herself became a huge part of the piece as a whole.

            To conclude, Janine Antoni’s presentation of work really opened my eyes about performance art. I had never really understood it and the concepts behind it. When listening to her talk, her concepts made a lot more sense and it was a real eye opening experience. I was also excited to see the use of sculpture and performance art blended together like she does. Overall, the talk was very well done and helped me understand performance art.


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