Between 1969 and 1973, Vito Acconci's creative output was focused on body pieces and performances, many of them seminal works now firmly lodged in the art historical canon of the time. Whether he was transforming space by masturbating under a platform extension of the gallery floor or transforming the body by tucking his genitals between his legs, Acconci promoted a radical, corporeal method of working with the human presence that has remained relevant in these less performative times. This publication traces the development of Acconci's early work through his own writings and documentations from that time. Rather than a critical study, it offers invaluable primary source materials: For each of the approximately 200 performances/works included, Acconci drafted meticulous notes, mapping out his ideas and describing the specifications of each piece. Many of the artist's works were ephemeral performances and actions, and these primary source materials are now the only extant artifacts from the work. Thus the book's contents come directly from Acconci's personal archives, and include his notes and documentations, plus photographs, where available. An introduction by Gregory Volk provides historical context and addresses the issues of body art and performance still relevant today.
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Text: Italian, English
Original Language: Spanish
Linker, an independent critic whose work appears frequently in Artforum, does a commendable job of elucidating the concepts behind the varied but consistently provocative work of Vito Acconci, one of the most influential artists of the last 20 years. As Linker vividly describes Acconci's startling 1970s performance pieces, she explains how they relate to his ongoing effort to define the "nature of the self." Acconci's tactics include breaching the boundary between self and society, emphasizing the self as a repository for experience, and objectifying the body. His early works include documentation of the artist trying to catch a ball blindfolded, making marks in his flesh, and, in Seedbed, masturbating beneath a ramp on a gallery floor, an example of his willingness to takes puns to unsettling extremes. Acconci shocks his viewers to incite thought: he doesn't want empathy, he wants action. This desire for action inspired his more playful and sculpturally complex works during the 1980s, including his clever mobile units, "self-creating architecture," and the wonderfully disorienting Bad Dream House series. A philosophical confrontationist with a keen sense of the dramatic and the kinetic, Acconci has altered and expanded our perceptions of art and its role in our increasingly fractured culture. Donna Seaman
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