Antin’s seminal series 'The King of Solana Beach' (1972) features five vintage photographs and documents the artist's famed performance. Dressed in drag as a cloaked, bearded male, and much to the bemusement of the local civilians, Antin poses as the sovereign of Solana Beach (a coastal city in San Diego known for its surfing culture). The King, petite in stature, parades the streets, surveying the land and offering counsel to local community members. Behind his grandiose guise, however, he is vulnerable; fighting a losing battle to maintain the rights to the land, which is inevitably being sold to redevelopers.
The series sees Antin as 'King' in various sites of engagement with the public: at the bank, the pharmacy, entering a clearly marked men's bathroom, etc. Transforming herself through her posture and appearance this is considered one of the earliest feminist works to investigate the intersection of gender and politics.
Women Look At Women, Richard Saltoun Gallery 15 February - 31 March 2018
Betti-Sue Hertz (Ed), Eleanor Antin: Historical Takes, Prestel: 2008, London; Munich; New York
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