Eleanor Antin: But can you really win? Have you ever seen a revolution that
didn't swallow itself? Isn't defeat built into the world, as basic as
carbon? Aren't we all doomed? We go out in the morning and we're going to
be defeated at night. If we have really bad luck, we'll be defeated by
noon. You said I was a comedic artist, but the comedy in my art is more
like the story they tell about Max Jacob--or maybe it was Robert Desnos, I
don't remember, I've heard it about both--who was in the concentration
camp, waiting his turn to go into the ovens. He went up and down the long
line of people waiting with him, and he leaned over their hands and read
their futures from their palms...That's one of my favorite stories.
[crying] I'm sorry. [composing herself] Okay...ask me something else.
Fox: [moved, disturbed] But nothing in life--unless you are a very
religious person who has a full faith in a life after death--is going to
eliminate the ultimate defeat. But for you, is there something that redeems
or exalts humankind?
Eleanor Antin: For me personally it was making art. And to me that means
inventing, making meaning happen where there wasn't any before. It has made
my life worth living. Hey, it even helped me survive the art world.
is a video, performance, conceptual and installation artist
from Southern California. This was excerpted from
Eleanor Antin by Howard
N. Fox, published by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1999.