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Eleanor Antin, born in New York City in 1935, is a formative figure in the history of performance art. She delves into history—whether of ancient Rome, the Crimean War, the salons of nineteenth-century Europe, or her own Jewish heritage and Yiddish culture—as a way to explore the present. Through a skilful play on a variety of media including photography, video, film, performance, installation, drawing, and writing, Antin uses historical settings and allegory, mythical characters, fictional personas, and alter egos to construct metaphors about the malleability of gender and identity formation in the contemporary world. Appearing as any number of selves in scripted as well as improvisational performances for several decades, Antin has blurred the distinction between her identity and that of her characters. In the process she has created a rich body of work, detailing the multiple facets of her distinct personas.
Her most recent awards include several AICA (International Association of Art Critics) awards including one in 2003 for best gallery show for The Last Days of Pompeii and a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship in 1997. She has had numerous solo exhibitions, including an award-winning retrospective at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 1999. She has written, directed and produced many videotapes and films, among them the cult feature, The Man Without a World, (1991). She has written 6 books, Being Antinova (Astro Artz), Eleanora Antinova Plays (Sun & Moon), 100 Boots (Running Press), Man Without a World: a Screenplay (Green Integer, Sun&Moon Press), and Conversations with Stalin (Green Integer). Her recent book, An Artist’s Life by Eleanora Antinova was recently published by Hirmerverlag, Munich. Antin has been a professor of visual arts at the University of California, San Diego since 1975 where she is now Professor Emeritus.