Janine Antoni

Performance view of the piece titled "Paper Dance" by Janine Antoni.
Janine Antoni, in collaboration with Anna Halprin, Paper Dance, 2013. Photographed by Pak Han at the Halprin Dance Deck. Courtesy of the artists and The Fabric Workshop and Museum, Philadelphia. Photo credit: Pak Han.

Janine Antoni explores the boundaries between object making and performance. Her body is both her tool for making and the source from which her meaning arises. She is known for transforming materials like chocolate, soap, limestone, cowhide, and clay by using unusual art-making processes such as eating, bathing, grinding, mopping, and sleeping. 

In her 1993 work Lick & Lather, Antoni made a mold directly from her body, then cast herself seven times in chocolate and seven times in soap. She then re-shaped her image by licking the chocolate and washing the soap. In her most recent work, Antoni has turned to dance and movement for her inspiration. to twine expresses a connection that is impossibly deep. Using the gesture of entwinement, two human spines articulate a connection taken to an impossible extreme. In each piece, no matter the medium or image, a conveyed physicality speaks directly to the viewer’s body. Antoni carefully articulates her relationship to the world, giving rise to emotional states that are felt in and through the body. 

In Ally, Antoni will continue her investigation of the spaces between genres, grappling with both sculptural and performative modes of expression. The project is a collaboration with Anna Halprin, the founder of the San Francisco Dancer’s Workshop and a pioneer of the expressive arts healing movement, and Stephen Petronio, a renowned New York-based choreographer, that will place into conversation all three artists’ disparate yet complementary practices. Ally brings together performance art, visual art, and dance, attempting to open up new connective possibilities between these fields. Through a deeply collaborative process, Antoni, Halprin, and Petronio created new interdisciplinary performances that debuted at The Fabric Workshop and Museum in Spring 2016. The interactions between body and object, and sculpture and dance, will be brought to the forefront in an attempt to understand the similarities as well as the unique capabilities of each medium. 

Artist Statement 

I’m a storyteller with many stories to tell: the story of the material and its cultural meaning; the story of how the object is made and its life in the world; and the story of my body in relation to objects and other bodies. 

My body has been at the center of my work from the beginning. It’s both my tool for making and the source from which meaning arises. 

I have an unquenchable desire for intimacy. My work comes out of a deep sense of loneliness and frustration that we cannot truly ever know each other. I try to enter my objects, leaving traces of my interaction on their surface for others to discover. To understand my objects is to empathize with what I have gone through to bring them into the world. The object becomes a surrogate for this desire to connect and communicate. 

As I focus on my body, its gender becomes paramount. I am immediately aware that the world responds to me as a woman among all the other qualities that define me. In my work, I embrace my female lineage both biologically, art historically, and politically. 

Along with female identity, I explore themes of family, primal urges, consumption, and embodiment through sculpture and performance. I carefully articulate my relationship to the world, giving rise to emotional states and a conveyed physicality, which speaks directly to the viewer’s body. 

For the past seven years, I have explored various forms of somatic movement modalities to inform my sculpture. While my sculpture has allowed me to represent this experience, my movement into performance has allowed me to instantaneously expose the ideas arising from and through the body.  

Artist Bio

Janine Antoni (American, born 1964)

Janine Antoni graduated from Sarah Lawrence College in 1986 and received her MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1989. Since then, her work has been featured in solo and group exhibitions at such institutions as the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Mattress Factory, Pittsburgh; S.I.T.E. Santa Fe; and The Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin. Recognized nationally and internationally for her entrancing works that bring together diverse media, Antoni has also participated in the Venice Biennale, Whitney Biennial, and the Johannesburg Biennale, among others. She has received many prestigious awards including the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellowship (1998), the Larry Aldrich Foundation Award (1999), the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship (2011), the Creative Capital Artist Grant (2012), and Anonymous Was A Woman Grant, (2014). Antoni is represented by the Luhring Augustine Gallery in New York.