Loving Care, 1993.

Janine Antoni’s performance resurfaced in my memory at about 4:00 a.m. this morning. Why? I could not tell you. But now I feel strongly inclined to write about it. This performance placed Antoni into the history of contemporary art, where she has occupied space ever since. In Loving Care, Antoni mopped the floor of the gallery with her hair soaked in Loving Care hair dye “Natural Black.” The artist’s actions conjured up the expressive marks of Abstract Expressionist painting, linking them to the chore of mopping. As she claimed the space, the audience was slowly backed out of the gallery.

“I mopped the floor with my hair… The reason I’m so interested in taking my body to those extreme places is that that’s a place where I learn, where I feel most in my body. I’m really interested in the repetition, the discipline, and what happens to me psychologically when I put my body to that extreme place.”

Janine Antoni was born in Freeport, Bahamas in 1964. She received a BA from Sarah Lawrence College and an MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design. Her body is both her tool for making and the source from which her meaning arises. Antoni’s early work transformed materials like chocolate and soap and used everyday activities like bathing, eating, and sleeping as sculptural processes. She carefully articulates her relationship to the world, giving rise to emotional states that are felt in and through the senses.

Body. Motion. Body Art. Embodiment. Fear of the Feminine. Power Dynamics. Body Politic. The Feminine. Subjectification. Gender. Performance Art. Ritual. Feminism.

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