Janine AntoniLoving Care (1993)

Antoni’s work is interested in not only commenting on what goes into the making of something, she’s also preoccupied with feminine embodiment and commodification of bodies, objects and processes.

Loving Care was performed at the Anthony d’Offay Gallery in London.

On her hands and knees, Antoni dipped her head into a bucket of Loving Care hair dye and used her head/hair to mop the gallery floor.

There’s a number of things at play here–most notably: subversion.  The beauty standards of western culture being founded upon notions that as a woman–you as you are naturally is not enough, you need to diminish signs of aging or invite attention through drastic changes to hair color.

Using it against its intent, there’s an emphasis placed on its ability to alter semi-permanently. This is again tied into the stereotypically notion of men as being preoccupied with higher considerations so that it’s women’s jobs to worry about things like ensuring the floors are clean–only in this case, the act of cleaning is transgressed and subverted.

An interesting facet of the conceptualization is–as anyone who has ever mopped a space knows–you work in such a way that you have an exit behind you. Antoni did exactly that but this meant that as she mopped/painted the floor, she pushed the people out of the gallery behind her. By implication: everyone could see the beginning of the labor but that scope dwindled as the work advanced towards completion. (The notion being that we all know the floor gets cleaned but even if we bother to note that it’s clean, we are programmed to not really bother to follow that through to any sort of appreciation for such completion.)

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