Vito Acconci: An Interview

1983 | 01:03:00 | United States | English | B&W | Mono | 4:3 | 3/4" U-matic video

Collection: On Art and Artists, Interviews, Single Titles

Tags: Architecture, Blumenthal/Horsfield Interviews, Conceptual Art, Installation, Interview, Performance, Poetry

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Vito Acconci (b. 1940) is known as a conceptual designer, installation and performance artist. In the 1960s he embraced performance in order to "define my body in space, find a ground for myself, an alternate ground from the page ground I had as a poet." Acconci’s early performances, including Claim (1971) and Seedbed (1972), were extremely controversial, transgressing assumed boundaries between public and private space and between audience and performer. Positioning his own body as the simultaneous subject and object of his work, Acconci’s early videotapes took advantage of the medium’s self-reflexive potential in mediating his own and the viewer’s attention. Consistently exploring the dynamics of intimacy, trust, and power, the focus of Acconci’s projects gradually moved from his physical body (Conversions, 1971) toward the psychology of interpersonal transactions (Pryings, 1971) and, later, to the cultural and political implications of the performative space he set up for the camera (The Red Tapes, 1976). Since the late ’70s, Acconci has designed architectural and installation works for public spaces.

In this interview, Vito Acconci analyzes his artistic output, ranging from early poetic work through to his architecture, pulling attention away from sensationalist readings and back to his basic concerns regarding the productive and critical role of art. Acconci offers critical perspective of the personal and public contexts of his work.  Major works from many phases of his production are presented in this discussion (Following Piece, Seedbed, Claim, Reception Room, Instant House).  Within the dialogue, Acconci tracks variations in his approaches to the roles of power, body, physical space, and the private/public divide within his art. He also evaluates the ways in which the movements of conceptualism and process art entered his practice.

Interview by Kate Horsfield.

A historical interview originally recorded in 1983 and re-edited in 2004 with support from the Lyn Blumenthal Memorial Fund.