“I want to put the viewer on shaky ground,” Acconci has said, “so he has to reconsider himself and his circumstances.” Adjustable Wall Bra prompts just this doubt. One possible reflexive response to it, sexual desire, is mocked by the work’s size; another reduces us to infants dwarfed by their mother. Yet nothing says that the giantess implicit here is unfriendly. In fact the work is wittily accommodating.
Hinged in the center, the bra can be variously installed: both cups against the wall; one against the wall, one hanging outward, or on the wall adjoining; one cup on the wall, the other on the floor, or bridging wall and floor, or bulging from the ceiling. The cups are lined with canvas, and you can sit in them; and on the floor they suggest a tent or igloo. Its form invokes clothing, its scale evokes both furniture and architecture, and the work itself speaks of physical shelter. Even as its size disconcerts, its humor reassures: the cups light up, and built-in speakers broadcast steady breathing.
A former performance artist, Acconci is acutely attuned to the politics of the human body. Here he applies outsize scale (a strategy used by Pop artist Claes Oldenburg in his soft sculptures of the 1960s) to induce awkwardness-he may invite you to sit, but you will feel self-conscious if you do.
Publication excerpt from The Museum of Modern Art, MoMA Highlights, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, revised 2004, originally published 1999, p. 312.