Janine Antoni

If I Die Before I Wake (mother's hand meets daughter's hand in prayer), 2004

Porcelain nightlight with electrical fixture

5 3/8 x 4 1/4 x 6 inches (13.65 x 10.8 x 15.24 cm)

If I Die Before I Wake is modeled after a traditional porcelain prayer nightlight. In the sculpture, the mother's hand meet her daughter's hand in prayer. The two hands have an uncanny similarity except for evidence of the ageing process. 

The title is taken from a prayer Antoni said with her mother throughout her childhood. Antoni remembers the moment when she actually listened to the words of the prayer and thought, “that’s an incredibly morbid thing to say to your child as they are falling asleep.” Now a mother herself, Antoni has spent many hours helping her daughter transition from waking to sleeping: time for the artist to contemplate the fear of surrendering into sleep and what that has to do with the fear of death.