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Janine Antoni - to draw a line - Exhibitions - Luhring Augustine

Janine Antoni
September 6 – October 25, 2003
Opening reception September 5, 6-8pm.

"The hemp rope aches with tension. Its potential energy is so palpable it overwhelms mundane references to tightrope walking and invokes a nobler theme -the precarious nature of equilibrium."
-Linda Weintrab, "on the tightrope," Tema Celeste, Sept/Oct 2003 (issue no. 99).

To Draw a Line is a sculptural work made with two nine-foot steel reels placed on inclined planes and linked by a 24-foot expanse of hemp rope. Enhanced by the additional weight of lead ingots loaded into the reels, gravity rolls them down the inclines away from each other, stretching the rope taut. Chocks made of steel and rubber are wedged between the flanges of the reels and the inclines, safeguarding their precarious balance.

These enormous metal structures frame a 4000 lb cloud of raw hemp fiber billowing beneath the rope. Drawn from this raw material are 180 yarns that twist together to form 100 feet of rope, handmade by the artist and her assistants. The rope snakes across the floor and up around one reel; halfway across the expanse it splices into an industrially made rope that is coiled around the second reel. The industrial rope then separates out to form a ladder, gathering together again and eventually reintegrating itself into the heap of raw hemp.

Prior to the opening Antoni will walk the rope to its center and balance on the splice for as long as she can manage. Inevitably she will fall 7 1/2 feet into the cloud of hemp fiber. Thus the same material that holds her up will also cradle her fall. In the words of the artist, "The kinesthetic experience of learning to balance on a tightrope is reflected by the tenuous composition of To Draw a Line. Just as the skeleton is the sculptural armature of the body, the rope acts like the spinal cord linking and supporting the reels."

The other work in this exhibition, Caryatid, is also inspired by the implications of balancing and falling. This piece is comprised of two elements, a photograph and a sculpture. The first element is a life-size image of the artist as seen from the back, balancing a large vessel on her head. The image hangs upside down, reversing the relationship between her body and the vessel. Through the simple act of inverting the photograph the artist again balances on the object, as in To Draw a Line. The vessel, now shattered, appears beside the image as a container for its remaining shards.

In these works Antoni proposes that balance is not an optimal state but rather a fleeting moment we experience from our more general place of imbalance. She reframes our understanding of "falling" as a necessary and inevitable aspect of movement and change. Here what we normally fear as failure, instead embodies the actuality of how we live.

Luhring Augustine has represented Janine Antoni since 1996. Her work has been exhibited and collected internationally. Most recently she has exhibited at Magasin 3, Stockholm; The Deste Foundation, Athens; The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Ridgefield, CT; and at SITE Santa Fe, Santa Fe, NM. Her work has been collected by such museums as The Whitney Museum for American Art, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, The Museum of Modern Art, NY, The Art Institute of Chicago and the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY.

For more information please contact Natalia Mager at 212.206.9100 or

Installation Views

Announcement card (front)
Announcement card (back)
Janine Antoni, to draw a line
Janine Antoni, to draw a line
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