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Janine Antoni
Sarah Charlesworth
Joseph Grigely
El Lissitzky
László Moholy-Nagy
Vik Muniz
James Nasmyth
Gabriel Orozco
Man Ray
Ringl + Pit
Alexander Rodchenko
Janine Antoni
b. 1964, Freeport, Bahamas

Janine Antoni's public career began three years after she obtained her M.F.A. at the Rhode Island School of Design in 1989, with an exhibition titled Gnaw. The show consisted of two five-hundred-pound cubes—one made of chocolate, the other of lard—eaten away by the artist, and the sculptures she produced using the masticated removings. The chewed lard was mixed with pigment and beeswax to make 150 lipsticks, while the chocolate was cast into 40 heart-shaped packages for chocolate candy. Antoni generates her work through performance and the operations of her own body on objects frequently chosen from the universe of conventionally feminine products and activities, such as lipstick, weaving, mascara, or cradling. Her work has been featured in many group shows and a recent museum retrospective. In 1998 Antoni earned a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellowship.

Ingrown, 1998
C-print, edition 8/8, 18 1/8 x 16 3/8 inches (46 x 41.6 cm)

This photograph of paralyzing, hypertrophic fingernails is rich with associations. It calls to mind vampires, hydras, or werewolves—monsters perched on the far side of sex appeal. At the same time, long nails are often a sign of beauty and distinction, and have served as status symbols in working-class America, imperial China, and Buddhist India (where it is men who cultivate them). The soft appearance of the fingers and hands here emphasizes a distance from manual labor (ironic for a sculptor), while the high-gloss, scarlet finish of the nails conventionalizes the image of women as idle, sensual objects. Clearly, the artist could not both make or photograph the work and wear them, and removing these narcissistic manacles requires further help or an act of wrenching pain. Ingrown encapsulates a renunciation of creative agency and, beyond that, the seductive attractions of human bondage. —Matthew S. Witkovsky