In January 1971, Acconci performed Seedbed intermittently at New York's Sonnabend Gallery. On days he performed, visitors entered to find the gallery empty except for a low wooden ramp. Below the ramp, out of sight, Acconci masturbated, basing his sexual fantasies on the movement of visitors above him. He narrated these fantasies aloud, his voice projected through speakers into the gallery. This video documents the performance.
The following text, which documents and transcribes Seedbed, was published in Avalanche magazine in 1972:
. . . I'm doing this with you now . . . you're in front of me . . . you’re turning around . . . I’m moving toward you . . . leaning toward you . . .
Under the ramp: I'm moving from point to point, covering the floor . . . (I was thinking in terms of producing seed, leaving seed throughout the underground area).
I'm turned to myself: turned onto myself: constant contact with my body (rub my body in order to rub it away, rub something away from it, leave that and move on): masturbating: I have to continue all day—cover the floor with sperm, seed the floor.
Through the viewers: because of the viewers: I can hear their footsteps, they’re walking on top of me, to the side of me—I’m catching up with them—I’m focusing on one of them: I can form an image of you, dream about you, work on you.
. . . you’re on my left . . . you’re moving away but I’m pushing my body against you, into the corner . . . you’re bending your head down, over me . . . I’m pressing my eyes into your hair . . .I can go on as I think of you, you can reinforce my excitement, serve as my medium (the seed planted on the floor is a joint result of my presence and yours). You can listen to me; I want you to stay here; you can walk around me; walk past me; come back; sit here; lie close to me; walk with me again.
Reasons to move away from a space: there’s no need to stay—I’ve left something there, outside, that used to be here, inside—I’ve left something there that can grow, develop, on its own.
Reasons to move: I can move with an easy mind—what’s left behind is safe, in storage.
Gallery label from Contemporary Art from the Collection, June 30, 2010–September 12, 2011