Janine Antoni
USA, 1964
Janine Antoni uses her own body as subject and object of her works. Gnawing, spitting, licking, cleaning, blinking, dreaming, are some of the body actions she turns into sculptural processes to create her work. Her interest is focused on the everyday rituals of the body; as she explains, "I imitate basic fine arts rituals such as chiseling (with my teeth), painting (with my hair and eyelashes), modeling and molding (with my own body). I use materials which is appropriate to the activity. Those materials -soap, lard, chocolate, and hair dye- are all materials which come in intimate contact with the body and redefine or locate the body within our culture. These materials also have a specific relationship to women in our society." Influenced by seventies feminist art, Antoni explores femininity with her guts: acting obsessively with her own body, she situates her experience as a woman conditioned by feminine social and cultural stereotypes. In the performance Loving Care (1993-1995) she scrubs the floor with her hair after putting on black dye, Loving Care brand. In that way she turns a conventionally female household task into an eccentric comment on the position of women in abstract painting. In Gnaw, a sculptural installation created in 1992 for the Whitney Museum Biennial in New York, she constructs two cubes -one chocolate and the other lard- which she places on a marble pedestal. By gnawing, spitting and eating, she wears away the upper corners of the two cubes. With that practice she is making a criticism of society today, defined by her as bulimic, which compulsively desires, consumes and trashes its products. In Eureka (1993) she gets into a bathtub full of lard and leaves the mark of her body in the material, a simple everyday activity in which she tackles the problem of the body's place in our cultural context.
Silvia Sauquet