Eleanor Antin Eleanor Antin: Romans & Kings

The White Review Oct 31, 2017

For the past five decades, feminist conceptual artist Eleanor Antin has created an anti-essentialist chronicle of herself. Working within a range of media – including photography, film, writing and installation – Antin has explored a stream of selves, influenced by everything from Yiddish theatre to European cinema. As she has commented: ‘I’ve always been addicted to masking, to the slipperiness of genre. I despise purity. It’s so boring. What the hell, it doesn’t exist, anyway.’

During her rise to prominence in New York’s downtown art scene of the late 1960s, when women artists and feminist themes were routinely excluded from gallery programming, Antin’s work presented female subjects with bare-knuckles chutzpah, depriving the viewer of the easy consolations of pathos or titillation. A recent reappraisal of feminist art from this period, such as the showcase Sex Work: Feminist Art & Radical Politics at Frieze London – featuring the libidinal, uninhibited work of artists such as Marilyn Minter (sucking, rhinestone-studded mouths) and Renate Bertlmann (cacti sprouting hot pink dildos) – shows how defiantly these second-wave feminists exploded taboos around female sexuality and the body. It also shows an establishment ready, 50 years on, to welcome them with open arms

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