Eleanor Antin’s cast of characters

Eleanor AntinShape-shifter Eleanor Antin‘s work is featured at the ICA, Boston until July 6. The exhibit, “Multiple Occupancy,” encompasses Antin’s photographs and video as well as installations of her paper dolls. She manipulates these dolls–some life-size, others in normal “toy” scale– in ways that are subversive and deeply funny. Pictured is a tableaux, “Field Operation,” from the larger series Angel of Mercy, in which Antin assumes the role of a Florence-Nightingale-like 19th century nurse. Antin’s character muses: “If one soldier is killed, he merely dies, but if I heal him he returns to kill at least one other before perhaps dying himself. So I am not a healer but a double killer.” Produced just after the end of the Vietnam War, Antin’s piece is jarringly relevant today.

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