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Theses Doctoral

Roles Recast: Eleanor Antin and the 1970s

Liebert, Emily Katherine

"Roles Recast: Eleanor Antin and the 1970s" provides the first book-length study devoted to Eleanor Antin (b. 1935), and positions her practice as a pivotal point between late modernism and postmodernism in American art. The project focuses on Antin's work from 1971 to 1977, made while the artist was living in San Diego. During the period under consideration Antin integrated key facets from dominant art paradigms of the 1960s, especially Conceptualism and Minimalism, with a politics of desire and sexuality, creating art that instantiates a critique of vision. As such, Antin anticipated strategies that would become canonical by the late 1970s in art informed by postmodernist feminism, notably by artists associated with the "Pictures" generation. By arguing that San Diego was a key site from which art informed by postmodernist feminism emerged, I challenge the geographic binary that associates essentialist feminism with southern California and locates a more theoretically-inclined feminism in New York. Through what I call an "aesthetics of precarity," I contend that Antin reveals the vulnerability and potential for mutability that lie at the core of such fields as subjectivity, spectatorship and community. Related, she challenges the stability of visual representation and identity, and reveals the ways that fissures in one compromise the plenitude of the other. I argue that these features of Antin's work, integral to the particular feminism she advanced, served as a protest against the military triumphalist rhetoric--and its celebration of the heroic, stable soldier--that was prevalent during the Vietnam War era in which her artistic practice emerged.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Art History and Archaeology
Thesis Advisors
Alberro, Alexander
Deutsche, Rosalyn
Degree
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
October 25, 2013
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