Bryce Johnson-Janine Antoni lecture review

Artist Lecture Review: Janine Antoni

Bryce Johnson

ARTH 3539-001

Janine Antoni is a Bahaman’s born artist, who currently lives and works in New York. She received her education from Sarah Lawrence College in New York, with a BA, and from Rhode Island School of Design, with an MFA. She deals with process in her work with relation to her body in a certain environment, or doing a certain action. Janine uses her mouth and hair as a process of communicating her narrative in her works.  Performance is an important aspect of Janine’s work. Her process a lot of the time includes some sort of performance, as seen her piece “Gnaw.” Her work has a surface value that is interesting but her pieces also have a deeper meaning that normally communicate her views of the everyday world and how we interact with it.

During the lecture you really got a sense of Janine’s personal attachment and involvement in her work. Many of her pieces incorporate materials and aspects of her personal life. As a concept the materials used in relationship to interaction between a material and her body is a fundamental concept in her process. Her relationship to her mother is also a reoccurring influence in her work. One work that stuck out to me in particular was her piece “Loving Care.” This is a performance piece were she dips her head in a bucket of hair die, which she said was the same hair die that her mother uses, and mopping the floor with her head the same way that her mother would mop.  She mops the whole entire space, and as she does that the crowed recedes out of the exhibition space. This sort of action painting, as she said in lecture, was related to abstract expressionism, emulating Jackson Pollock and his action paintings.

Her piece “moor” is another work where the materials used had personal value. She weaved a large rope together from materials that she gathered from friends and family. Her purpose for making the rope was that the rope was to represent an umbilical cord, making a statement on how the people that she is connected to are the reason that she is living. I found that to be a powerful idea.  The work is connected to a piece titled “Cradle.” This piece is constructed of metal scooping devices from spoons to an industrial bucket, in the manner of a matrykoshka dolls. I relate the objects to hands and the idea of a palm holding something. It ends with a looped spoon, which is the first spoon that a child learns to use. Knowing that, I see the progression of the size of the objects to different stages of life, ending with the largest grounding figure that, for this piece, I would symbolize with a gravedigger and the end of life.  Having these two sculptures exist together strengthens the narratives behind each work and also the idea of life and her relationship to objects and people around her.

“Gnaw” is one of her well-known works.  To make this piece she chewed a large 600 lb cube of chocolate and also a large 600 lb cube of lard.  The performance part of the process of creating this work was the action of biting and scrapping her teeth on the cubes.  From the chewed up and spit out pieces of chocolate she made 45 heart-shaped packages, and from the lard, 400 lipstick containers. This piece is a good summary of the way Janine is involved in her work. She likes to have the presence of her body be apart of the work so that she has a direct connection with the audience. Her work has a lot to do with relations to things and relations to people and places. I thought that she made that point clear in her lecture. I like when the artist goes through a history of their work to show what brought them to their current understanding and current projects. Through her lecture she made clear what her inspirations are for many of her works. That is the fortunate thing that comes from going to the artist lecture that I am always grateful for. It helps me as an artist to see how someone is able to convey the message or to tie the message into the piece as poetically as Janine does.

Works Cited

Antoni, Janine. “Janine Antoni.” Visting Artist Lecture Series. Visual Arts Center      Lecture Hall, Boulder, CO. 6 Mar. 2012. Lecture.

Art 21, Inc. “Janine Antoni.” Art 21: Janine Antoni. PBS. Web. 17 Apr. 2012.        <;.

One Response

  1. I really enjoyed your review and after reading this wish I had gone to her artist lecture. I really enjoyed when you talked about the piece “Loving Care” and talked about Antoni’s ideas about body and material. Your descriptions were great and really portrayed the connection between material and body and influences from those around us.

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