January 19, 1964 |
|Field||Sculpture, Installation art|
Janine Antoni (born January 19, 1964, in Freeport, Bahamas) is a contemporary artist,who creates work in performance art, sculpture, and photography. Antoni's works focus mostly on process and the transitions between the making and finished product. She often uses her whole body or different parts of it, such as her mouth, hair, eyelashes, and brain as tools and with them performs everyday activities to create her artwork.
Antoni graduated from Sarah Lawrence College with a BA, and from the Rhode Island School of Design with an MFA in 1989. She was a 1998 MacArthur Fellow. In 2010, Antoni was elected into the National Academy of Design. She is a 2011 Guggenheim Fellow. She also works as a mentor at Columbia University School of the Arts.
Antoni is married to fellow RISD alumnus Paul Ramirez Jonas and resides in New York City.
In her work Gnaw (1992,) Antoni uses her mouth and the activity of eating or chewing to carve two 600 lb (300 kg) cubes, one made of chocolate, the other of lard, then used the chewed out bits to create chocolate boxes and lipstick tubes, which she then displayed in a mock store front. Antoni made a statement about her work saying "Lard is a stand-in for the female body, a feminine material,since female typically have a higher fat content than males, making the work somewhat cannibalistic". In this work and others, Antoni often confronts issues such as materiality, process, the body, cultural perceptions of femininity, and her art historical roots.
In Loving Care (1992), Antoni uses her hair as a paintbrush and Loving Care hair dye as her paint. Antoni dips her hair in a bucket of hair dye and mops the gallery floor on her hands and knees and in the process pushes the viewers out of the gallery space. Once again, in this process Antoni explores the body, as well as themes of power, femininity, and the style of abstract expressionism. Her performance was at the Anthony d'Offay Gallery, London, in 1993.
Tableaux vivants is another form of creation that Antoni has been described as utilizing. In her installation Slumber (1994) Antoni sleeps in the gallery for 28 days. While she sleeps, an EEG machine records her REM patterns, which she then weaves into a blanket from her night gown under which she sleeps. This particular work is seen as a tableau vivant because of the spectacle aspect of it:
The aspirational focus of this tableau vivant, while situating the artist as an object on view, simulataneously [sic] insists on an aesthetics of connections: between the artist and beholders, between the artists [sic] and the art institutions, and between the artist's conscious and unconscious processes.
In Eureka (1993), Antoni created a body cast of herself in a bathtub made from lard, soap, Corian soap.
In Lick and Lather (1993), Antoni produced fourteen busts, seven cast from chocolate and the other seven from soap. She then "re-sculpts" the busts by eating them (chocolate) and bathing herself (soap) as the title suggests.
In Butterfly Kisses (1996-1999), she covered a canvas 32 1/4 x 32 1/4 inches with marks made by batting her eyelashes covered in Cover Girl Thick Lash Mascara. In this process Antoni explores the body as a means of creating art.
In To Draw a Line (2003) Antoni createed a sculpture using 4000 lbs. of Raw Hemp Fiber 120 feet of hand made Hemp Rope spliced into 1200 feet of Machine made Hemp Rope,2 Recycled Steel Reels, 140 Lead Ingots with a total weight of 13,300 lbs, 2 Steel Ramps with a 20% incline, 4 Steel and Rubber Laminated chocks. It is 35 x 20 x 10 feet.
Another important component of this work was Antoni's ability to communicate directly with the museum-goers. Antoni explains this desire to be involved in the viewer's experience when she writes:
- [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, etc. But there are times when the best way to keep people in that place, which for me is so alive and pertinent, is to show the process or the making.
 In her show Move: Choreographing You, Antoni interacted with her audience by slipping them a mysterious note that read: The minute you saw me, you came straight over and then stopped. As if you couldn’t think and move at the same time, it seemed that you’d come to some conclusion because your thoughts started to lead you with such intensity. It was as though you had taken me into your body, I remained still, quietly absorbing my surrender to your desire. You came so close to me that I felt the breeze of your movement on my surface. Swept away by your burning attention, I felt as if I was made for you. I was completed by your presence. Will you carry me in your memory? Or is that too much to ask?
She says of this performer/audience interaction: "This letter sums up my relationship to my audience. I have a deep love for the viewer; they are my imaginary friend." 
Antoni is still an active member of the art world.
- Jennifer Fisher. "Interdependence: The Live Tableaux of Suzanne Lacy, Janine Antoni, and Marina Abramović." Art Journal. vol. 56, no. 4 (winter, 1997), 28–33.
- Brooklyn Rail
- Biography, interviews, essays, artwork images and video clips from PBS series Art:21 -- Art in the Twenty-First Century - Season 2 (2003).
- The-artists.org Janine Antoni page
- MoMA Learning Page on Janine Antoni
- "Talking with Janine Antoni, Part One", October 7, 2009, Joe Fusaro