Vito Acconci [New York]
From Word to Action To Architecture
Performance art pioneer
The New York artist Vito Acconci (1940) has been given several labels in the course of his career: performance art pioneer, master of conceptualism, and ‘the godfather of transgression’. He started his artistic career in the mid-sixties, as a poet: he saw the empty sheet of paper as a space through which the writer and reader could travel. His poetic actions later shifted from paper to the gallery, where they changed into performances in which he reflected on his own physical and psychological being. His writings became instructions for or descriptions of actions which he would then carry out himself. For example, he would follow randomly chosen people in the street (Following Piece, 1969). Or else he performed repetitive simple actions such as trying to catch a ball blindfold (adaptation study blindfolded catching, 1970). These actions were at first documented in words and photos, but as soon as video appeared he became a pioneer in the use of that medium. In 1972 he carried out his best-known performance, seedbed: he masturbated under the floor of the gallery while the visitors listened to the sounds through loudspeakers.
His body was always part of his seventies performances and installations, either physically or in the form of films or sound recordings. Acconci was looking for a new definition of the object and for a space for public experiences involving the viewer and the artist. He removed the traditional boundaries between the artist and the public, between an object and an event or a work of art and its right to exist in a spatial or social context. In the early eighties his interest in space led to the establishment of the Acconci Studio, where he brought together architects and artists to create plans for monumental changes to architecture and the environment.
Starting out from the video work exhibited at Argos, Vito Acconci is giving a talk on his work, from poetry through video and performance art to architecture and design. It seems that the step from one medium to the next is not such a big one – the focus is always on language and body in relation to space.
Vito Acconci at Argos
A wide-ranging exhibition that focuses on the language-based work of this influential American artist. The core consists of the video and audio works from the seventies, in which Acconci, in the role of performer, brings about an intense dialogue, in the form of stream-of-consciousness monologues, between the artist and the viewer or listener, his body and psyche, public and private space, subject and object, and presence and absence. It is always about the relationship between the self and other people and things.
Witte de With, Center for Contemporary Art (Rotterdam) presents a lecture by Anne Wagner on Vito Acconci in the framework of the lecture series Cornerstones. Bookings: firstname.lastname@example.org - Witte de Withstraat 50, 3012 BR Rotterdam