Conversations with Stalin: A Performative Reading by Eleanor Antin

Performance from the artist’s coming-of-age memoir, followed by a conversation with Michael Morris.

As part of the exhibition, State of Mind: New California Art Circa 1970, at the Belkin Art Gallery, Eleanor Antin will give a performative reading of chapters from Conversations with Stalin.

Eleanor Antin is a major figure in the history of feminist art, who works in a variety of media, including photography, video, film, performance, installation, drawing and writing. She has had many one-woman exhibitions, including the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum and a major retrospective at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

Her works are in many collections around the world including the Beaubourg, Tate Modern, MOMA, the Whitney, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Loeb Family Foundation. She has performed around the world including the Venice Biennale, Documenta 12, and the Sydney Opera House. Her cult feature film The Man Without a World (1991) was screened at many festivals among them Berlin, USA, London and San Francisco and had art house commercial distribution. She is represented by Ronald Feldman Fine Arts, New York City. Her many awards include an Honorary Doctorate from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (2009) and a Lifetime Achievement award from the Woman’s Caucus of the College Art Association (2006). Antin is an emeritus professor of Visual Arts at the University of California at San Diego.
“I was what was called in the days of the old left, a red diaper baby. My mother was a Stalinist and though I had a father, nobody ever listened to him because he was just a socialist and everybody knew they were wimps. It was hard in those days, Senator McCarthy was putting people in jail, people were losing their jobs, but we were strong because we always knew what was right. Comrade Stalin told us. Or he would have told us if he wasn’t so far away…These are my recollections, more or less, about growing up with the many romantic, economic and psychological problems young people face in our country and how by the end of the day, Comrade Stalin always solved my problems in his own inimitable way, by fucking them up.” (Conversations with Stalin)
Antin’s memoir is a smart, no-holds- barred, black comedy in the picaresque coming of age tradition of Holden Caulfield, Huck Finn, Little Orphan Annie, and the irrepressible Dorothy on the road to Oz. Impatient with the timidity of the current publishing world (as long ago she was turned off by the art world gallery system and chose to send her 100 BOOTS directly to the public through the mail) Antin is bringing her new memoir directly to the public through a series of performance readings in museums, art spaces and universities.
A conversation between Michael Morris and Eleanor Antin will follow Antin’s performance. Though they have never met in person, in the early 1970s Morris and Antin were actively engaged in The Image Bank, a system of postal correspondence between artists for the exchange of information and ideas.

This event is free and open to the public.