Janine Antoni

Lick and Lather, 1993

Seven licked chocolate self-portrait busts and seven washed soap self-portrait busts on fourteen pedestals

Bust: 24 x 16 x 13 inches (60.96 x 40.64 x 33.02 cm) (each, approximately)

Pedestal: 45 7/8 x 16 inches (116.01 x 40.64 cm) (each)

Installation dimensions: variable


For the work Lick and Lather Antoni made a mold directly from her body, then cast herself seven times in chocolate and seven times in soap. She then re-shaped her image by licking the chocolate and washing the soap. The ancient Greeks believed that a perfectly proportioned body was seven heads high. By licking and washing the heads, Antoni questions these assumptions of classical beauty. By using everyday materials she triggers the viewer’s memory of these basic rituals, forming an empathetic relationship to her process. Because the viewer can imagine her intimate contact with the object in making it, they can reconstruct the process in their minds.  

As far back as the Romans, the classical bust has adorned our homes. In this work, Antoni has created busts from materials found in the home, thus describing herself through the activities that happen in this private place. The work begs the question: are we most ourselves at home alone eating dinner or taking a bath?