Comprised of fifty-one photographic postcards, Antin’s 100 Boots is an epic visual narrative in which 100 black rubber boots stand in for a fictional “hero” making a “trip” from California to New York City. Over two-and-a-half years, Antin photographed the boots against different backdrops across the U.S., and then turned the pictures into postcards, which she then mailed to approximately 1,000 people around the world. In conjunction with the boots’ “arrival” in New York City, the postcards were exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art. The project speaks not only to the reproduction and dissemination of images, but also about how the material reality of the images—their settings and their existence in mailboxes—was in stark contrast to the everyday lives of the people who received the cards. As with all “mail art” which had begun with the Fluxus movement in the late 1950s and was on the rise in the late 1960s, using the postal service enabled artists to completely bypass the traditional art-world distribution system, and allowed Antin to expand or compress time as the narrative required.
Over a roughly thirty-year period, conceptual and multidisciplinary artist Eleanor Antin has been creating narrative images in photography, video, film, performance, and installation. Her practices blur fiction and history, often with humorous wit, theatrical sensibility, and allegorical impulse. During her early career, Antin was associated with a group of artists who were recognized for returning the element of narrative to contemporary art, which until the 1970s had been dominated by highly abstract, purist work.