Essays

Eleanor Antin on Art, Ageing and Grief

May 2019

Eleanor Antin, Time’s Arrow, 2017.

In a black and white photograph from Eleanor Antin’s multimedia work The King of Solana Beach (1974–75), a surf-town sovereign – wearing a flowing cape, floppy hat and fake beard – handles three oranges in a local supermarket, deciding which, if any, to consume. The first of the artist’s ‘other selves’ – that she has been creating and enacting through performances, photographs and writings since the 1970s – The King once resided a short ride up the freeway from where Antin now lives, in the hills near Del Mar, San Diego. I visited her there in early 2018. Echoing the reserved tendencies of The King, we didn’t eat much – only nibbled on a small plate of nuts in her glass-fronted studio. Antin’s restraint was a healthy hangover from the all-consuming, unconsuming work she’d recently finished, CARVING: 45 Years Later (2017): a re-enactment of her seminal 1972 project CARVING: A Traditional Sculpture.

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