This project examines the construction of subjectivity in Eleanor Antin’s Carving: A Traditional
2700 Words11 Pages
This project examines the construction of subjectivity in Eleanor Antin’s Carving: A Traditional Sculpture (fig. 1) and Chris Kraus’ Aliens and Anorexia (fig. 2) . These works inscribe notions of the self, the social, and the subject through and upon the body, addressing the interpolating poles of nutritive consumption and “willing the body away” through self-starvation. Throughout this essay, I will demonstrate how these artists engage with the spaces and discourses created around food and disordered eating to produce a counter dominant take on subjectivity, a thematic both artists attend to regularly throughout their careers.
My reading prioritizes theories of the body, subjectivity, consumption, gender and difference, refusing to see…show more content… Before attending to theoretical concerns I will first ground my reading in art-historical methods, explicating the position of these works within Antin and Kraus’ larger oeuvres and within the historical contexts of their production. An analysis of form and medium also underlines a reading of these works that privileges self and subjectivity. In Carving, A Traditional Sculpture and Aliens and Anorexia, the live or temporal practices common throughout Antin and Kraus’ careers are respectively mediated through photography and texts. By removing the material body from works that are essentially performative, the artist looks back over herself, commenting on, while creating her own lived subjectivity.
I chose to position these two works together because, as Clare Johnson states in her study of Antin, Vanessa Beecroft, and Elizabeth Manchester, “I want to discuss the artworks in terms that do not presuppose a ‘proper’ form of feminist art practice, or suggest that the contemporary work supersedes the ‘critical’ strategies of the earlier piece.” Johnson’s articulated aims are not to claim any single artist or artwork as “feminist,” per se, but to create rich and complex readings that “articulate the inscriptions of feminist practice” and “reﬂect the relational web of mutually constitutive meanings.” This web frames a discussion of Kraus and Antin’s work, allowing for a critical co-reading of works produced at different