The Many Selves of Pioneering Feminist Artist Eleanor Antin
For almost 40 minutes Antin slowly puts make-up on her face, while looking at herself closely in a mirror. This activity is interrupted only by short sensual cigarette breaks. This is Antin’s rst video piece, and delves into feminist critique by responding to the traditional narrative cinema, in which the masculine gaze tends to represent women as an object of erotic pleasure.
Signature: Initialled and numbered (1-10) in pencil
Image rights: Copyright the artist. Courtesy Richard Saltoun Gallery
Nola Butler, Eleanor Antin, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, illus. p 45
The core of Eleanor Antin’s performances, films, photographs, written texts, and installations is her wide cast of alter egos from both historic and contemporary times, who explore issues of age, race, sex, and class. As critic Kim Levin aptly said, by “impersonating the past, Antin personalizes the issues and dilemmas of the present.” Antin began creating Conceptual art in the 1960s, and in the ’70s became widely known for using then-unconventional narrative forms in her artwork, such as autobiography and impersonation, always with a transgressive, deadpan humor. One of her most famous characters was Eleanora Antinova—an imagined forgotten black ballerina from Sergei Diaghilev’s productions—as whom she has written a fictitious memoir and made films, drawings, and performances.
American, b. 1935, Bronx, New York, based in New York, New York