A written response – Janine Antoni

I chose to review one of Janine Antoni’s works – Loving Care (1993). In this work and others, Antoni is concerned with the human body and use it as a tool. In addition, she deals with cultural feminine characteristics and with the relations between the outside and the inside in her works.

Loving Care (1993) is a performance in which Antoni uses her hair as a brush and The Loving Care Hair Dye’s as paint. Hair dying is a very intimate action and by preforming in the d’Offay Gallery, Antoni pulls out this action from its everyday context.  I see in Antoni’s action of using her body as a tool as a way to enhance the criticism on objectification of women. In addition it creates a stronger connection between the artist to her action.

Performance with Loving Care Hair Dye Natural Black Photographed by Prudence Cumming Associates at Anthony d'Offay Gallery, London, 1993

Performance with Loving Care Hair Dye Natural Black. Photographed by Prudence Cumming Associates at Anthony d’Offay Gallery, London, 1993


The element Antoni uses in her work (bucket, floor) and the way she uses her body implant in our minds that her hair/head resembles a mop. Cleaning counts as very famine act which is mostly hidden (as dying your hair) and Antoni puts this action in the center. Not only she is changing its context of space, instead of cleaning Antoni dirty the floor and leaves her mark while kneeling.

During the performance the room was filled with people, slowly as she was “moping the floor” Antoni was “mapping the people out of the room”. By doing that the artist pushes aside the spectators from her “private” action. On the one hand the artist’s position is very vulnerable and can be even count as humiliating. On the other hand, Antoni claiming her privacy and the gallery’s space (by pushing out the observers).

I found this art work very interesting and important because Antoni took feminine activities (e.g. cleaning, dying your hair) which I find as suppressing and by changing their context and creating a unique interaction with her audience, at the end of the process she was “empowered”. Observing documentations of this performance I did not understand why the artist chose to cover her hands with gloves. Is it in order to protect them? But why to cover them at all, In my opinion this action weakens the use in her body as a tool.


Janine Antoni: Milagros (2014), Art21
Distinguished Artists’ Interview with Janine Antoni (2013), CAA
Interview with Janine Antoni by Lynn Hershman (May 10, 2006), Brooklyn, NY
Framing Sculpture: Janine Antoni (2009)

Categories: Art Strategies

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