Janine Antoni – Slumber (1993)

Janine Antoni is a feminine artist I have become really interested in, I’ve been intensively researching artists who embrace womanhood and what it is like to be a woman as opposed to that of feminists, who generally focus on patriarchal oppression. Moreover, I really like how she touches upon ideas relating to the maternal by referencing her mother in her other works, in a sense I feel like she celebrates life, traditions and rituals handed down from her mother.

Antoni’s  methodology is intriguing – I really like the dynamic relationship she creates between herself and the raw materials she uses; the use of her body to play and transform the materials is essential to her practice and lends itself to performance. It follows a ritualistic nature of performing activities related to female and her extremely physical presence in these acts evokes ideas regarding metaphysical relationships between female and object in a sensuous way. It is in the ritualistic qualities of Antoni’s practice that I’ve become interested in adopting in terms of how I use certain materials and what makes them particularly ‘feminine’.

Slumber (1993) using an electroencephalograph (EEG), Antoni recorded her rapid eye movements (REM) whilst sleeping in the gallery space – which would be her bedroom throughout the performance. From the results, she would then rip strips of material from her nightgown and weave the REM patterns into a blanket.

I think Slumber is quite spectacular, Antoni manages to fuse traditional methods (weaving) with modern and scientific methods of working (EEG); weaving is an activity that very few can still properly and symbolically represents dreaming, so the combination of using sleep as a material alongside weaving is an intelligent twist on the performance and sculpture, they both manage to complement one another. There have been other interpretations of this art work, mainly links to Greek Mythology which caught my attention. Antoni has been compared to Penelope, who would weave by day and unpick her tapestry to ward off suitors whilst awaiting her one love, Odysseus. Moreover, are the comparisons of Arachne – I can’t help but find these interpretations to be quite magical, somewhat sacred. But what is important is the emphasis on the female goddesses and their crafts, it seems Greek Mythology explored similar themes of women’s work, empowerment, the maternal and creativity, all of which I find most interesting.

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