24 July 2009


Vito Acconci, born in the Bronx in 1940, is an architect and artist whose works crosses from performance, film, video, photography, and installation. He began his career as a writer, and made his way onto the art scene with his performance art in the late 60s/ early 70s. Acconci made over 20 films and videos involving performance and tense audience interaction within a period of six years, from 1969 to 1975, with the pinnacle of these performances being "Seedbed" (above). This performance made the cover page in the Artbook, and is probably one of Acconci's most renowned work. In "Seedbed," Acconci sits huddled underneath a landing in an empty studio, masturbating to the sounds of and thoughts towards the gallery viewers above him. He strives to create a complex web of interaction between viewer and artist. One comment of his on the performance that I found particularly interesting I found (via wikipedia) in an interview with Brian Sherwin for his blog Myartspace. He told Sherwin, "I knew what my goal had to be: I had to produce seed, the space I was in should become a bed of seed, a field of seed – in order to produce seed, I had to masturbate – in order to masturbate, I had to excite myself."
In researching Acconci, I found one of many answers to a question I had been pondering for quite some time: why are film and video classified differently? In Vito's opinion, "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." In his terms, film is the direct expression of world around us, in which the audience is viewing the world through the eyes of the artist, whereas video is an inner dialogue; conversely, the audience is looking in at the artist. Whether this is a widely accepted differentiation between film and video, who knows. I think it's a pretty interesting take, regardless.

There is definitely something to be said about his architecture, as well. Based in Brooklyn, Acconci heads a group of architects who have designed interior and exterior spaces throughout the world.

 I'm not sure if the actual studio is open to the public, but the address on its website is 20 Jay Street, #215. Definitely could be something to check out. 

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