antonia wright

Antonia Wright

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Antonia Wright creates aestheticized extreme gestures using her own body as an artistic tool. Her works negotiate the boundary between performance and video art, questioning social norms through physical actions combining danger with beauty, aggression with vulnerability. Her ultimate goal is to restore a sense of immediacy to the audience encounter and elicit emotion and concern for the other.

Wright uses surprise and discomfort to evoke strong reactions in the viewer. Whether she is performing tai chi covered in 15,000 bees, throwing her naked body through a pane of glass, pouring paint in her eye, or falling through a hole in the ice on a frozen lake, she subjects her body to treacherous conditions. The inherent risks are compounded by an element of chance, in that although she prepares for months, sometimes years, she never performs the actual piece with all its components until the final instant. This forces her to respond in the moment, generating an emotional intensity that is transmitted to the audience.

Wright’s current practice is informed by her love of poetry, which she studied before turning to visual art. Similar to the physicality of concrete poems her process aims at continuously shaping the poetic articulation of a visual metaphor through a sparse economy of means. Just like poetry, her work is born from a process of distillation, as words become forms in real time and space. Her strategy is to create dichotomies— calmness and fear, violence and humor— and most importantly, the co-existence of profound discomfort with the formal beauty of the image. In this conflation of the harrowing and the sublime, a productive tension happens.

Wright’s work engages with the history of performance art, but her pieces are created for today’s multimedia landscape: unlike performances where video was used to document the event, Wright designs with the technical demands of video in mind. The performative aspect and the power of the recorded image hold equal weight, melded into a hybrid that effectively blurs genre distinctions.

At their core, Wright’s works are about fighting apathy. By placing herself in extreme situations and making herself feel on a visceral level, she creates the conditions for viewers to experience deeply as well. Whatever the medium, Wright creates events that act as a bridge between the sociopolitical sphere and the reality of the body — the vulnerable, feeling, powerful body. Her work is a continuous pursuit to examine the genesis of empathy as a fierce reaction born in the flesh.

Antonia Wright graduated from the New School University in New York City with an MFA in Poetry as well as at the International Center of Photography. She has exhibited in the U.S. and abroad and has been awarded artist’s residencies both nationally and internationally. Exhibitions include shows at Pioneer Works (New York), The Faena Arts Center (Buenos Aires, Argentina), The Margulies Collection at the Warehouse, The Cisneros-Fontanals Foundation (CIFO), Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, Spinello Projects (Miami, FL), Luis de Jesus Gallery (Los Angeles, CA), Aeroplastics (Brussels, Belgium), The National Gallery of Art (Nassau, Bahamas), and Ping Pong (Basel, Switzerland). In April 2012, she became the first artist-in-residence at the Lotus House Shelter for women and children in Overtown, Miami.

Wright’s work has been presented in publications including The New York Times, Artforum’s Critics’ Picks, Art In America, New York Magazine, Daily News, Miami Herald, El Nuevo Herald, and The Art Newspaper.