Janine Antoni-Biography by OLJcNLD


									                                Art in the 21st Century:
                    The Figure, Post-Modernism and Janine Antoni
Janine Antoni-Biography
Janine Antoni was born in Freeport, Bahamas in 1964. She received her BA from Sarah Lawrence College in New York, and earned her MFA
from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1989. Antoni’s work blurs the distinction between art and sculpture. Transforming everyday
activities such as eating, bathing, and sleeping into ways of making art, Antoni’s primary tool for making sculpture has always been her own
body. She has chiseled cubes of lard and chocolate with her teeth, washed away the faces of soap busts made in her own likeness, and
used the brainwave signals recorded while she dreamed at night as a pattern for weaving a blanket the following morning. In the video,
"Touch," Antoni appears to perform the impossible act of walking on the surface of water. She accomplished this magician’s trick, however,
not through divine intervention, but only after months of training to balance on a tightrope that she then strung at the exact height of the
horizon line. Balance is a key component in the related piece, "Moor," where the artist taught herself how to make a rope out of unusual
and often personal materials donated by friends and relatives. By learning to twist the materials together so that they formed a rope that
was neither too loose nor too tight, Antoni created an enduring life-line that united a disparate group of people into a unified whole. Antoni
has had major exhibitions of her work at the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, S.I.T.E. Santa Fe,
and the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin. The recipient of several prestigious awards including a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur
Fellowship in 1998 and the Larry Aldrich Foundation Award in 1999, Janine Antoni currently resides in New York.

“Performance wasn't something that I intended to do. I was doing work that
was about process, about the meaning of the making, trying to have a love-
hate relationship with the object. I always feel safer if I can bring the viewer
back to the making of it. I try to do that in a lot of different ways, by residue,
by touch, by these processes that are basic to all of our lives...that people
might relate to in terms of process, everyday activities— bathing, eating,
— Janine Antoni

“Lick and Lather,” detail
7 soap and 7 chocolate self-portrait busts, 24 x 16 x 13 inches each
Collection of Jeffrey Deitch, New York
Photo by John Bessler
Courtesy the artist and Luhring Augustine

“I wanted to work with the tradition of self-portraiture but also with the classical bust…I had the idea that I would make a replica of myself
in chocolate and in soap, and I would feed myself with my self, and wash myself with my self. Both the licking and the bathing are quite
gentle and loving acts, but what’s interesting is that I’m slowly erasing myself through the process. So for me it’s about that conflict, that
love/hate relationship we have with our physical appearance, and the problem I have with looking in the mirror and thinking, ‘Is that who I
— Janine Antoni
                                                                       Biting, chewing, spitting, and blinking are only
                                                                       some of the bodily processes Janine Antoni
                                                                       employs to create her art. She sets her teeth
                                                                       to enormous blocks of chocolate and lard; she
                                                                       dips her hair in paint and mops the floor with
                                                                       it; she lades her eyelashes with eyeliner and
                                                                       patterns the canvas by blinking. She takes
                                                                       every compulsive practice associated with
                                                                       femininity and hyperbolically engages it, both
                                                                       participating in and criticizing a society that
                                                                       she characterizes as "bulimic."

                                                                       Why bulimic? Because, Antoni believes, we
                                                                       are constantly and compulsively consuming
                                                                       and discarding the products of our culture.
                                                                       And Antoni doesn't see bulimia as a mere
                                                                       metaphor; it is rather a widespread physical
                                                                       disposition that reaches far beyond its clinical
                                                                       definition. Her work engages this physicality
                                                                       directly. During her celebrated performance
                                                                       "Gnaw" (1992), she was forced to decide at
                                                                       each moment whether to spit out or swallow
                                                                       the material she was consuming (chocolate or
                                                                       lard). She enacted, in a sense, the bulimic's
                                                                       ambivalence regarding the function of the
                                                                       mouth: is it an organ for expelling, or rather
                                                                       for ingesting? It is both. The two processes
                                                                       embody the two forces that Antoni believes
                                                                       define our society -- the desire to consume
                                                                       and the desire to discard.

Discarding takes on a double meaning in “Gnaw.” On the one hand, it is the practice of the bulimic, who
vomits everything she eats. On the other hand, it is the fixation of a culture that has come to enjoy the
pleasures of packaging perhaps more than the product. "Packaging is a symbol of our times," Antoni
says. "It is a seduction -- unwrapping is like undressing. The stuff around the object is often more
signifying than the object it contains." Antoni conflates the two meanings of discarding in her art: she
sculpts the spit-out residues of chocolate and lard into heart-shaped candy boxes and lipsticks. The
products of her destructive process are symbols of our society's obsession with the surface.

Each of Antoni's projects engages the body in a kind of compulsive activity, a repetitive fixation that
characterizes a section of society. Her "Loving Care" (1993) takes the domestic chore of mopping and
exaggerates its obsessive aspect. As Antoni dips her hair in paint and mops the floor with it, the
audience, standing in the room at the beginning of the piece, is progressively forced outside. The activity
is at once revealed as a societal tick, an obsession, while it is also claimed as a source of empowerment.

The ambiguity inherent in this gesture is characteristic of all of Antoni's work. She inserts herself within -
- indeed she embraces -- the very activities she seeks to criticize. For Antoni, critique is not a merely
intellectual practice; rather it is a physical engagement that reveals, by means of hyperbole, the
threatening facets of an obsessive society.

Taken from http://www.artandculture.com/cgi-bin/WebObjects/ACLive.woa/wa/artist?wosid=NO&id=902

"Lick and Lather" An Interview with Janine Antoni from Art 21
ART:21:   Let's talk about your sculpture "Lick and Lather" How was it made?

ANTONI:   I wanted to work with the tradition of self-portraiture but also the classical bust. So the way I made it is I took a mold
          directly from my body. I used a product called alginate, which is the kind of material that you might be familiar with
          when you go to the dentist. That sort of minty tasting stuff. It’s an incredible product because it gets every detail,
          every little pore. I even castedmy hair. So I started with an exact replica and then I carved the classical stand. I made
          a mold, melted down thirty-five pounds of chocolate, poured it into the mold, and when I took it out of the mold I
          resculpted my image by licking the chocolate. So you can see that I licked up the front and through the mouth up onto
          the nose, over the eye and back up over the ear onto the bun and then down in the back around the neck.

          I also casted myself into soap. She started as an exact replica of myself. We spent a few hours in the tub together. I
          slowly washed her down and she becomes almost fetal because all her features start to be washed away. So I was
          thinking about how one describes the self and feeling a little uncomfortable with my outer surface as the description of
          myself. And this piece very much is about trying to be on the outside of myself and have a relationship with my image.
          So the process is quite loving. Of course chocolate is a highly desirable material and to lick myself in chocolate is a kind
          of tender gesture. Having the soap in the tub was like having a little baby in there. But through that process I’m slowly
          erasing myself. For me it really is about this kind of love-hate relationship we have with our physical appearance.

ART:21:   Is it also erotic?

ANTONI:   Yes, well, the thing about chocolate is that it has the product fenylamine in it. That product is the chemical that’s
          produced in our body when we’re in love. So I think that’s why chocolate is so addictive.

ART:21:   Is there something humorous about this piece?

ANTONI:   I think what’s humorous about the piece is that I’m playing with a tradition of the classical bust, which is very serious.
          And I asked myself some questions about why, traditionally, would artists want to make a self-portrait. And I came up
          with a few answers for myself.

          The first one is to immortalize yourself. But of course my materials are ephemeral, so I’m kind of trying to work against
          the grain of that. And it was a funny thing because I conceived the piece to be in the Venice Biennial and I knew that
          there would be classical sculpture everywhere. And I arrive in Venice, and as you probably know Venice is totally
          eroding. I came upon these stone sculptures and they looked very much like my soap head, because the features had
          been washed away. And I thought to myself, what does that say about our mortality that even stone has a lifespan?

          And then the other answer I gave myself about why make a self-portrait is this idea of creating a public image of
          yourself. An image that you were presenting to the world. And I guess my question was—is that an accurate
          description of the self? And are we more ourselves alone at home eating a meal or in the bathtub, in these everyday
          activities? So that’s where I got the idea to work with the chocolate and the soap.

ART:21:   Can you talk about the arduous quality of making the piece?

ANTONI:   Yes, it took a long time to make the pieces. We spent several hours in the tub together. And I think what’s important
          about that is that we were very intimate with each other. And my hope is that you as a viewer can feel that intimacy.
          That’s what a portrait is — a way of getting close to the person that it’s depicting.

ART:21:   And beauty?

ANTONI:   In terms of the classical bust, an issue that my work deals with a lot is the idea of woman and beauty. And thinking
          about how women have been depicted traditionally in sculpture and trying to take that on... There’s something quite
          startling about the erasure of my process.

ART:21:   And also the classical bust is traditionally a man...

ANTONI:   The thing about the classical bust is it’s usually reserved for depicting men and usually very powerful men. And then
          when we see women in classical sculpture they depict hope and charity and love. I was particularly conscious of that
          when I made the bust and thinking about this act of erasure of this specific personality. With this particular bust here, I
          licked the chocolate and I licked right up the front and over the cheek. I also licked the eye and the lips and nose. And
          then I came around and licked you know over the ear and back onto the bun. And then I thought it would be nice to
          just lick under the nape of the neck, along up under the ear on the other side. It's modeling in the sense that when you
          carve, you start with a block and you remove from it. But what I’m doing is starting from a representation of myself
          and then removing from it.

ART:21:   What does the removal process signify for you?
    ANTONI:    I think it’s a funny thing when you think about the creative process and what we go through when we’re making a
               work. A lot of times there’s this element of destruction. That we have to kind of unmake in order to make. And that
               interests me very much. And also working from very basic materials. I’m also thinking a lot about this idea that there’s
               this kind of relationship between me and her that I’m literally feeding myself with myself and washing myself with
               myself. So there’s this circular narrative that’s happening.

    ART:21:    Is there a ritualistic aspect?

    ANTONI:    Sure...I was thinking of everyday rituals like eating and bathing. But also other rituals. Certainly the Eucharist is about
               eating the body, so that also comes to mind.

    ART:21:    How do you decide to shape a bust this way and not that? Is it simply intuitive?

    ANTONI:    In terms of the creative process I think that I begin with a kind of conceptual structure. That I know to lick myself in
               chocolate means something, or to wash myself in soap means something. When I feel sort of comfortable with the
               security of a very, hopefully, rigorous conceptual structure, then I can actually let go of that kind of thinking. And when
               I go to wash or lick I’m not necessarily thinking about if I lick this area it means one thing or another, but really trying
               to get intimate with the process so a kind of surprise happens, especially with the soap bust. You know, I’m in the tub
               and all of a sudden this person appears to me and I’m not sure if she’s a relative or an alter-ego, but she’s related and
               yet different. And there’s something so beautiful about that process that lets her evolve through the process.

    ART:21:    There's something happening in the actions you're performing...

    ANTONI:    I think that because the process is so sort of gentle and loving, there is some kind of idea of self-love. You know of
               trying to come to terms with that surface being you. I think that, and I don’t know about you, but when I look in the
               mirror I don’t really recognize myself. I somehow see myself as I was as a little girl or in other manifestations of
               myself. So it’s always this contemplative moment of trying to come to terms with what I see and how that relates to
               what I feel inside and trying to bring those two things together. So I think with this whole process, you can imagine
               how jarring it is or how peculiar it is to lick yourself. It’s like being your own lover. Like putting yourself in the position
               of your lover and trying to understand what they’re seeing when they look at you.

    ART:21:    Do you feel closer to the chocolate or the soap busts?

    ANTONI:    I really feel close to the soap bust because we spent a lot of time in the tub together. And I just sort of rub her all over
               and you know she sort of smooths down and then she becomes almost fetal. It’s really quite a nice process. And it’s
               interesting to think about cleaning and purity. And just washing as a kind of ritual and its bigger meaning. I think this
               idea of cleaning is associated with purity.

               I think I was thinking about purity in terms of woman, and that is a kind of idealized state which of course is in contrast
               to the chocolate. Another way that women have been thought about is in terms of desire. So the work is about looking
               at the flip side of those two states and not feeling comfortable with either.

               The brown and white, really with all my work, it comes from the material. So I’m not so much thinking of myself in a
               dark color and myself in a white color. I’m thinking of myself in chocolate and myself in soap. But there is something
               beautiful about the way that in her purity she disappears.

    ART:21:    Is there something about casting, in particular, that you enjoy? You seem to come back to that process in your work a

    ANTONI:    I don't know, I can think of a lot of things that aren't done that way. Certainly you have your skills and your knowledge
               and you use it, and maybe there are many different ways to make an object but you use the experience that you've
               had. So there are certain processes which seem to come back. I was just talking to Melissa about this this morning. We
               were moving some plywood around, and I'm like, "Why are we always making these diving boards?" Like the way we
               made the rope and then we use the same sawhorses to make the other piece. And I think we were talking about that,
               how there is this kind of repertoire that you come back to.

               With mold making it's just that you look around and most of the objects around us are made that way. And because I
               am always trying to replicate or in some way work with everyday objects, everyday materials, I find myself there a lot.
               Also I am trying to make an everyday object out of another kind of material, so that casting it into that shape makes

    ART:21:    Is casting a ritual for you as well? Like transformation or transubstanstiation?

    ANTONI:    I was saying the mold making was about imitation, like I was trying to imitate these things from the world. For me the
               transformation happens somehow when I am working with the process. The process is what transforms it. Sometimes
               that's in the mold making but most of the time it's not. Usually, at least with "Lick and Lather", it's afterwards.

Taken from http://www.pbs.org/art21/artists/antoni/clip2.html
Janine Antoni (USA) One of the feminist artists to explore the issues of sexuality and fashion is Janine
Antoni who looks at the gender disparity of body shape, fashion and social conditioning.

Janine Antoni combines both sculpture and performance and as such continues a long tradition that includes
the Dadaists e.g. Meret Oppenheim's Spring Feast (1935) and the work of many of the Pop artists of the

All Antoni's main projects have been performed in front of an audience. Typically, Antoni uses her own body
to literally chisel, shape, colour and model the sculptures. In this way, Antoni pushes her body to extremes,
employing eating, bathing, washing, and sleeping as sculptural processes.

“I am interested in objects like the nipple, lipstick, and soap because this is how we return to the body. These
objects mediate our intimate interaction with our bodies. They define and locate the body within culture.”

Antoni has indicated a motivation with the feminist concerns of the cultural constructions of the female form;
the necessity of women to label and be labelled by consumerism and socially conditioned to be obsessed with
the ideal form. Associated with this are the detrimental, neurotic diseases such as bulimia and anorexia.

In the 1993 Venice Biennale, Antoni conducted a performance wherein she gnaws at a series of fourteen
chocolate busts and washes with a series of soap sculptures (Lick and Lather 1993). Antoni is dealing with the
notion of the ideal beauty and obsessive nature of cultural conventions. As the artist licks the chocolate
sculptures and washes with the soap ones, they all change size and lose definition. The use of these materials
serves to emphasise the ephemeral and malleability of the human form in the ageing process. The busts began
to deteriorate after a week becoming repellent and filthy.

Chocolate Gnaw is a monolith of 275kg of chocolate and another of lard, which the artist chewed off and
placed in a vitrine of illusionistic lipsticks (300 brand-name “Antoni Lipsticks”) and 34 heart shaped
presentation boxes of chocolate which were ornamentally arranged. This served to examine the obsessive
consumption and packaging that plague the Western world. However, the act of chewing and spitting has a
profound and shocking effect on the audience and this became the overriding interpretation of the performance

                                                                              Chocolate, lard, lipstick and
                                                                              display case; variable dimensions
                                                                              Collection of the Museum of
                                                                              Modern Art
                                                                              Courtesy the Artist and Luhring
                                                                              Augustine, New York
                                                                              Photo: Brian Forrest

                                             Detail, 1992
                                             600 lb. cube of chocolate gnawed
                                             by the artist, 24 x 24 x 24 inches
                                             Collection of the Museum of
                                             Modern Art
                                             Courtesy the Artist and Luhring
                                             Augustine, New York
                                             Photo: Brian Forrest

                                              Detail, 1992; Lipstick Display—lipstick made with pigment, beeswax, and chewed
                                              lard removed from Lard Gnaw and heart-shaped packaging tray for chocolates made
                                              from chewed chocolate removed from Chocolate Gnaw
                                              Collection of the Museum of Modern Art
                                              Courtesy the Artist and Luhring Augustine, New York
                                              Photo: John Bessler
Since the early 1990s, New York-based Janine Antoni has transformed everyday activities such as chewing, blinking,
dreaming, and grooming into performance-based art, often creating sculpture from the by-products of her actions.
In her early works, many involving the double-edged symbols of cosmetics and candy, she examined the lengths
women will go to in order to achieve societal preconceptions of beauty. Although makeup beautifies, it also
represents the imposition of a daily ritual, while candy signals both a tempting treat and the threat of eating

The two busts of "Lick and Lather" are related to an installation of fourteen self-portraits, seven cast in chocolate
and seven in soap. Each head is individualized as Antoni either licked or lathered its surface, wearing down the
features and marring what would otherwise resemble classical busts. These imperfections, as well as the competing
smells of the aging, ephemeral materials, hint at a certain repulsiveness that results from the compulsive attempt to
alter one's appearance for the sake of ideal beauty

ART IN REVIEW; Janine Antoni: 'Imbed'
Published: April 2, 1999

Luhring Augustine
531 West 24th Street
Through April 17

From gnawing at sculptures that she made of chocolate and lard to mopping a floor with her Loving Care-dyed hair, Ms. Antoni has
explored feminist issues by stressing women's body concerns and rituals. Sculpture, performance and installations are part of her
repertoire, including the elaborate ''Slumber'' of 1994 where recorded trackings of her rapid eye movements during sleep were
translated into the process of weaving. This show displays nothing so dramatic; in terms of Ms. Antoni's earlier work, in fact, it's
rather tame.

Two sculptures and two photographs are offered. Of the sculptures, the more empathic is ''and,'' composed of two ordinary-looking,
600-pound limestone boulders placed one atop the other, with a steel pole thrust vertically through them. Another pole, inserted in
the top rock parallel to the ground, enables it to be turned in a circle. Interested in the give-and-take resistance of the rocks, Ms.
Antoni pushed the horizontal pole in a grinding process for five to six hours a day (we are not told over what period of time, but
what a workout!).
The second sculpture, ''Cradle,'' a two-ton steel monster made from a construction-tractor bucket, contains in its motherly maw eight
different nested pieces -- made of a meltdown of part of the bucket -- from a big agricultural loader claw to a baby spoon. The
successive forms are meant to convey a matrilineage, touching but not too interesting.

Of the two color photographs, one is a lovely Madonna image, placed in an oval frame, of a mother caressing the leg of a pre
pubescent child; the other, titled ''Mortar and Pestle,'' is in a very different mood, revealing in excruciating detail a man's tongue
exploring a woman's rather reluctant eye. Considering Ms. Antoni's other exploits, this is a pretty thin show.

Tyler Green's modern and contemporary art blog
* Janine Antoni’s Lick and Lather should be a DC favorite right up there with Bonnard’s The Open Window or
the Monet’s The Bridge at Argenteuil. Maybe that’s beginning to happen: During some of my visits to Gyroscope
I noticed people spending a lot of time with the piece. One Saturday afternoon I noticed a young couple going
through Gyroscope at the same time I was. This was clearly one of those instances where the Chick dragged the
Frat Boy to the museum for his annual dose of culture. The Frat Boy was usually a gallery or two ahead of the Chick,
trying to pull her through the galleries more quickly. But when the Frat Boy got to Lick and Lather, he studied it,
walked around it and squinted at it. Within a minute or two the Chick was a gallery or two ahead of him.

Like Pistoletto’s Venus of the Rags, Lick and Lather should be a crossover hit, a work true to its conceptual
origins but still visually engaging and a whole lot of fun. One major reason Lick and Lather looks good now is that
it’s no longer in the basement exhibition space, an exhibition space that is as kind to art as hot sun is to milk.
Upstairs, the Antoni is installed in a corner, allowing it to be lit from a couple of different angles. Downstairs it was
installed flatly, just off of a wall.

          Janine Antoni

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