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Vito Acconci (American, born 1940)

About this artist

Source: Oxford University Press

American sculptor, performance artist and video artist. He worked for an MFA degree at the University of Iowa from 1962 to 1964. He initially devoted himself to poetry and writing but began to produce visual work in 1969, most of which incorporates subversive social comment. The works of 1969 were photographic records of actions such as bending and throwing, as in Toe-Touch (1969; see 1980 exh. cat., p. 12). From 1970 until 1974 he staged a series of activities and performances, such as Broad Jump ’71. This took place at the Convention Hall in Atlantic City, NJ, and was a jumping competition for men, with a woman as the prize: the work was designed to expose the conventions of male ownership of women.

After 1974 and for the remainder of the 1970s Acconci’s presence was only registered at most through recorded tapes of his voice. In Tonight We Escape from New York (1977) he installed a rope ladder in the Whitney Museum; alongside this were four loudspeakers, through which fragments of a racist dialogue were played, sounding as if they rose and fell along the ladder. He also used video and film in his work, as in the installation VD Lives/TV Must Die (1978) at the Kitchen in New York. This consisted of two TV monitors through which erotic images and sounds were played and in front of which were metal balls on stretched elastic bands, poised to smash the monitors. In the 1980s Acconci turned to permanent sculptures and installations, as in Instant House (1980; La Jolla, CA, Mus. Contemp. A.), in which the four sides of a house were pulled together by ropes by the viewer inside. He also produced sculpture and furniture made from natural and incongruous mass-produced objects, as in Garbage Seating (1986; see 1987 exh. cat., p. 39), made from dustbins, earth and tree branches.


From Grove Art Online

© 2009 Oxford University Press

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