Janine Antoni (American, b. January 19, 1964) is a sculptor, photographer, performance artist, and installation artist. She was born in Freeport, Bahamas, and later moved to Florida in 1977 to attend boarding school. In 1986, Antoni earned a BA from Sarah Lawrence College in New York. She went on to earn a MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1989. Antoni describes herself as “a storyteller with many stories to tell,” but she leaves room for the viewer’s imagination to expand on these stories and develop their own as in oral tradition.
When the artist begins to work on a project, she doesn’t think of an idea or a theme, but instead thinks of an emotion or situation she would like to experience. Antoni is greatly influenced by Robert Smithson (American, 1938–1973) and Louise Bourgeois (American/French, 1911–2010). Using her body as a tool, Antoni demonstrates daily rituals through sculptural processes. In the sculpture installation piece Gnaw (1992), Antoni chewed 600 pound cubes of chocolate and lard until she was too exhausted to continue. In a public performance at the Anthony d’Offay Gallery called Loving Care (1993), Antoni mopped the floor using her hair and a bucket of dye. She is interested not by the idea of performance, but by the challenge it poses to her body, and how she can show the viewer the creation of art.
A lot of thought goes into Antoni’s work and she sometimes takes years to finish a project. For her well-known video performance piece Touch (2002), Antoni spent months training to walk on a tightrope. The video was filmed on the beach in front of the house where she grew up in the Bahamas; she set up the tightrope so that once she stood on top, the rope would touch the horizon. Over the course of her career, Antoni has received the Painting and Sculpture Grant from the Joan Mitchell Foundation, the MacArthur Fellowship, and the Larry Aldrich Foundation Award. From 1993 to 2000, she participated in the Venice, Whitney, Johannesburg, Istanbul, and Kwangju, Korea biennials. She currently lives and works in New York City.