Janine Antoni is introduced here as an artist who transforms the process of daily rituals and everyday activities; such as eating or sleeping. That she describes the process as the end and the materials as the means for her work.
Her work, photography, video, sculpture, installation, weaving together primal concerns of the mind and body, performance is a means to bring you (viewer) back to the body.
My work shifts between object – installation – performance at the moment, learning how Janine Antoni reflects on various projects and outcomes is useful.
Janine Antoni Loving Care, 1993 Performance with Loving Care hair dye, Natural Black [image source]
In talking about the body, Antoni describes her shifting from traditional sculptures of the body to making work about the residue of the body, in Loving Care, she talks about feeling vulnerable in the making of the work, being on her hands and knees, but that as she worked mopping the floor from one end of the space to the other, people were pushed back and out of the gallery. She describes this as being empowering as she claimed the space, much like her mother telling her as a small child to ‘ go play outside’ while her mother cleans the floor. Her mother claimed the space for a time.
Janine Antoni Butterfly Kisses, 1996-99 Cover Girl Thick Lash Mascara on paper, 1124 winks per eye [source image]
Everyone’s a stranger to me now, which includes work made with my body, and the performance of pressing pieces of cloth which hold the impression of my face, the body is a tool for making and performing an action. Antoni numbered the process, the ‘winks’ to make the drawing Butterfly Kisses, which is interesting, I decided not to allocate numbers or record the sequence of making the individual works in Everyone’s a stranger to me now, partly because for me there is really no logical beginning or limit with the project, and I don’t want to close it into a work that can be easily understood by giving it a numerical value.
Antoni explains how the viewer has a body, and they can imagine the body in her work, they can feel empathy with the process of the making of the work; we look for ourselves in the art we experience.
The self portrait………
I’ve decided Everyone’s a stranger to me now is a series of self portraits, it was from the start! But I just didn’t quite locate it there, the meaning / motivation was driven by the desire to chase an idea and find an image; the outcome, the final object was / is still to be discovered.
Janine Antoni Lick and Lather, 1993 Seven licked chocolate self-portrait busts and seven washed soap self-portrait busts on fourteen pedestals [source image]
Antoni reflects on her self portraits, like Lick and Lather, 1993 as ways to immortalise the self, and the process of making a self portrait is a way to decide how to present the self to the world. Asking the question, ‘when are we more ourself?’ So who is the self I’m presenting with Everyone’s a stranger to me now? Is the act to remove this other self? That’s the trace that remains on the cloth, and am I creating a self and then removing her, daily, or even as a game I perform to make the work? This is circular and ritualistic, as each day I chose to wear make up (or not) and remove it again and again, create, remove, create. The trace of a public face is present, the interior absent, or is it present in it’s absence? Or is that just trying to be too clever..
Everyone’s a stranger to me now, 2018, detail