The Wallach Art Gallery Presents First Survey of Critical Works Multiple Occupancy: Eleanor Antin’s “Selves”

Media contact: Eve Glasberg, 212-854-8336,

NEW YORK, August 13, 2013 — The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Art Gallery at Columbia University presents Multiple Occupancy: Eleanor Antin’s “Selves,” curated by Emily Liebert. The exhibition will be open to the public from Wednesday, September 4 to Saturday, December 7, 2013.

Eleanor Antin, born in New York City in 1935, is an influential artist and writer. A pioneer of Conceptual art, she works primarily in the mediums of performance, photography, film, video and installation. Antin moved to San Diego in 1968 and became central to a vibrant artistic and intellectual community affiliated with the University of California, San Diego, where she taught from 1975 until 2002. For nearly 50 years, she has created humorous and often tragic works grounded in narratives that engage history, identity and feminism. This is the first exhibition to focus exclusively on the videos, photographic series, drawings and installations that express the multiple personae, or “selves,” that Antin created and embodied between 1972 and 1991: a king, ballerinas, nurses and a film director. The issues the selves personify—destabilized identity, fictionalized history, transformation and archival slippage—reverberate in art of the present day. The Wallach’s exhibition provides both a singular opportunity to see the multifaceted expression of Antin’s gathered selves and a homecoming presentation for her New York audience.

Antin once declared, “I consider the usual aids to self-definition—sex, age, talent, time and space—as tyrannical limitations upon my freedom of choice.” Her selves were of different genders, races, professions, historical eras and geographic locations, and their manifestations were as diverse as their stories. Some characters were embodied by Antin and captured in photographs and on video; others had paper doll or puppet surrogates. At times, their existence was known only through the drawings, texts and films they had ostensibly left behind. As she explored the fleeting nature of the self, Antin used fiction, fantasy and theatricality to examine the ways that history takes shape, scrutinizing the role that visual representation plays in the process.

Multiple Occupancy starts with Antin’s king, who struggles to empower his disenfranchised subjects in their fight against the greed of wealthy landowners. The exhibition ends with Yevgeny Antinov, an exiled Russian film director from the 1920s who disseminates his radical leftist politics through a silent film about Polish shtetl life. Between these two characters, visitors to Multiple Occupancy will encounter a self-taught ballerina who has mastered dance poses but cannot dance in motion, as well as Eleanora Antinova, an African-American ballerina from Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes, who longs to play the classic roles of Giselle and Sylphide but is relegated to more “exotic” Pocahontas types. Also in the exhibition will be Nurse Eleanor Nightingale, who cares for soldiers at the front line of the Crimean War, and her heir to the field a century later, Little Nurse Eleanor, whose attempts to heal her patients are continually sidetracked by their lust for her. Although the selves’ individual narratives are marked by a common desperation and, at times, helplessness, collectively, they succeeded in creating pathways for postmodernist art and its legacies, which treat identity as a complex and mutable condition.

Antin has had one-woman exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art and a retrospective at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. She has performed internationally at venues including the Venice Biennale and the Sydney Opera House, and has written several books, most recently, Conversations with Stalin (Green Integer). Antin is the recipient of many awards, among them, a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Women’s Caucus of the College Art Association and an hon¬orary doctorate from the Art Institute of Chicago. She is represented by Ronald Feldman Fine Arts in New York, and is an emeritus Professor of Visual Arts at the University of California, San Diego.

Emily Liebert will soon receive her Ph.D. from Columbia University’s Department of Art History and Archaeology. Her dissertation is entitled Roles Recast: Eleanor Antin and the 1970s (2013).

After closing at the Wallach, Multiple Occupancy will travel to the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston from March 19 to July 6, 2014. The exhibition catalog, edited and with an introductory essay by Emily Liebert, features new essays by Huey Copeland, Malik Gaines and Alexandro Segade, and Henry Sayre, and an interview with the artist.

Multiple Occupancy: Eleanor Antin’s “Selves” will be closed the week of Thanksgiving (November 25-30). The Wallach Art Gallery is located on the eighth floor of Schermerhorn Hall on Columbia’s Morningside Heights campus, 116th Street and Broadway, in Manhattan. The gallery is free and open to the public from Wednesday through Saturday, 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. For more information, call 212-854-2877 or visit

All events are free, open to the public and held at The Wallach Art Gallery, 8th Floor, Schermerhorn Hall, unless otherwise noted. Programming is presented in collaboration with Columbia University School of the Arts.

Reception: Thursday, September 5, 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.

Selves on Screen: Antin’s Video, presented in collaboration with Electronic Arts Intermix and Art21: Thursday, October 17, 6:00 to 8:30 p.m.

Curator’s Tour: Friday, November 8, 12:00 to 1:00 p.m.

An Afternoon with Eleanora Antinova (a.k.a. Eleanor Antin), presented as part of Performa 13: Saturday, November 9, 2:00 to 4:00 p.m.

Eleanor Antin in Conversation with Malik Gaines and Alexandro Segade, presented as part of Performa 13: Tuesday, November 12, 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. This event will be held at Hunter College MFA Art Building, 205 Hudson Street

About The Wallach Art Gallery
The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Art Gallery contributes to Columbia’s long-standing tradition of historical, critical and creative engagement in the visual arts. The Wallach presents exhibitions and related programming that reflect the diversity of interests and approaches to the arts at Columbia and embody the university’s high standards for research and instruction. Exhibitions strive to include the broad range of research and production undertaken by students and faculty, and to animate the university’s rich cultural resources.

About Columbia University
Among the world’s leading research universities, Columbia University in the City of New York continuously seeks to advance the frontiers of scholarship and foster a campus community deeply engaged in the complex issues of our time through teaching, research, patient care and public service. The university is comprised of 16 undergraduate, graduate and professional schools, and four affiliated colleges and seminaries in Manhattan, and a wide array of research institutes and global centers around the world. More than 40,000 students, award-winning faculty and professional staff define the university’s underlying values and commitment to pursuing new knowledge and educating informed, engaged citizens. Founded in 1754 as King’s College, Columbia is the fifth oldest institution of higher learning in the United States.

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