VITO ACCONCI

Born in New York (United States), 1940
Lives & works in New York (United States)
Very active in: 70s, 80s, 90s, 2000s, Current decade


More links:
http://www.acconci.com

Vito Acconci's performances and video works trace a trajectory from psychological investigations of subjectivity to examinations of the cultural, historical and social construction of the self. His performances were, in the context of the 70's arts scene, a pioneer example of the reaction against the "status quo" of the art's establishment. He felt that performance art was free of boundaries, and could accept all expression in their raw forms.

From 1969 to 1975 Acconci made over twenty films and videos. He has spoken of the distinction that he makes between film and video: 'film is landscape, video is close-up; film is silent, video is sound; film is history, video is news; film is physical, video is mental'. Indeed, this is an index of the opposing strategies that Acconci applies to film and video. Acconci also writes: 'I was thinking of video as close-up, video as a place where my face on-screen faces a viewer's off-screen - a place for talk, for me talking to you, the viewer.'

Mainly, Acconci performs a single action or a monologue in real time before a fixed camera. Using his body as a performance site, with language as a catalyst, he often Acconci is 'face to face' and up close to the viewer. Challenging the relationship between artist and audience, public and private, 'I' and 'you,' acting this way he proposes a radical rethinking of the very process of making art engaging with a central issue of the 70's arts debate, where the participation of the viewer, linked to performance and installations, became a central point of the emerging arts.

The sense of public intimacy envelops Vito Acconci's work. At some points, he would mutilate his own body to express his art. He would pull at his breasts to try and make them female breasts. He would burn the hair off his chest. He would sit in a pile of garbage, naked, and dress his penis in doll clothes. He expressed through self-punishment different metaphors. For example in 'Three Relationship Studies' body-based exercises, Acconci explores the dynamics of non-verbal interaction. Each 'relationship study' involves a form of mirroring: he literally spars with his own shadow image, aggressively confronting himself as the other, then attempts to mimic the other man's gestures. In the third 'study' Acconci initiates a circuit of control, voyeurism and desire, attempting to direct a woman's actions through his own.

Acconci saw video as 'close-up', and the shift to video as a dialogue with the privacy and a strong focus on the politics of self. At the beginnings of seventies he built a several series of conceptual works where clearly synthesises many of the ideas of post-modernism, giving to the conceptual art a change to explore a provocative language to address the audience. Facing the pain of deforming the body, talking straight to the audience or exposing frames of intimacy Acconci reveals the crisis of the Prometheus and commits art with a huge field of knowledge.

Copies of the works of Vito Acconci can be purchased and rented for exhibition in VDBand EAI.