Janine Antoni

Caryatid, 2003

C-print, artist's frame and broken vessel (cobalt blue glazed porcelain balustre with gold ceramic ornamentation)

Photo: 95 3/4 x 29 3/4 inches (243.21 x 75.57 cm)

Broken vessel: 10 x 12 x 16 inches (25.4 x 30.48 x 40.64 cm)

Caryatid is inspired by 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. She balances a large vessel on her head, making her body a pedestal for the vessel just as in classical Greek architecture where the female figure appears as a column supporting an entablature with her head. By inverting the photograph, the vessel becomes the pedestal for the woman. 

Caryatid plays with the stereotypical association of the woman's body with a vessel by breaking the vessel while still preserving its function as a container. Antoni writes, “For me, maturity is epitomized in the vessel holding its broken self. I want the viewer to see beauty in the possibility of containing your own broken self.” How the vessel broke remains unspoken, leaving space for the viewer to find their story in the space between the image in the photo and the broken vessel in front of them.