Lecture Review 1, Rachel Olguin

Rachel Olguin

ARTH 3539

Kira Van Lil

30 April 2012

Visiting Artist Lecture Review: Janine Antoni

            This semester I had the greatest pleasure of being able to attend the visiting artist lecture where the great Janine Antoni spoke. Antoni is an incredible contemporary artist held in the highest of regards in the art community.  Originally from the Bahamas, Antoni holds a Bachelor’s degree from Sarah Lawrence College as well as a Master’s of the Fine Arts degree from the Rhode Island School of Design. Antoni talked about what its like to have identities in multiple cultures, the ways in which her family influence her art and told us of the ways in which her art worked (and sometimes didn’t work). Many of her works investigate the line between performance and sculpture and allow for the viewer to relate to art by incorporating tasks of the every day routine. The lecture hall was filled to the brim with people wanting to hear more about this great artist and the works we so eagerly relate to and love.

During her lecture Antoni discussed many of her works. Two in particular that I enjoyed learning the most about were her pieces titled “Sleep” and “If I Die Before I Wake”.  The first piece transforms the concept of dreaming into a material thing. Antoni had a machine created in order to allow the body to make a drawing, then used it herself to create drawings while she slept. It was cool to learn about her research process in creating this piece because of the amount of detail she put into learning about the functions and dynamics of sleep. This is influential because as an artist it shows real desire to convey a specific and real truth about something. As a viewer, this also makes me appreciate an artist’s work even more when I know that they have put effort into telling me something they want me to know. ”Sleep” is also a good example of how Antoni incorporates performance into her art. By forcing herself to actually sleep in the museum where her machine was installed, the process of recording dreams becomes an act and not just a product.

The second piece, “If I Die Before I Wake”, is a night-light cast from she and her mother’s hands placed together in a prayer-like fashion. This piece is unique in that it talks about death and aging in a historically relatable manner. Because there are two generations of Antoni’s family represented the audience can recognize the passing on of life from one family member to another, as well as the grace received from taking care of one another from infancy to old age. I really enjoyed hearing her thoughts on this artwork because of how it gives hope and energy to guard against the fears that surround death. It addresses a universal emotion regarding old age in a new and uplifting way.

Janine Antoni is one of my favorite artists and I was entirely thrilled to have the opportunity to hear her speak. Her presentation was well thought out and gave the audience insight on her most famous works as well as her new ideas and lesser-known art. Many of the themes that she likes to discuss and work with are themes that I both relate to and put into my own art, which was also really cool. I left this visiting artist lecture feeling like I had gained a better view of the art world and knowing that Janine Antoni is still one of my favorite artists.

2 Responses

  1. Rachel, I completely agree that Antoni’s concepts are inspiring, and I feel that she influences my own art as well. It was a great experience to hear her speak

  2. I am a little confused as to how the piece “sleep” actually works. It sounds really interesting. If I am getting this correct, the artists sleeps and the machine draws based on her brain activity while sleeping? That sounds pretty crazy to me, and I wish I saw this lecture. I love anything that has to do with dreams and the subconscious.

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