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21st century
35.5 cm x 193.1 cm (14 in. x 76 in.)

Vito Acconci (New York, New York, 1940 - 2017) Primary

Object Type: photograph
Artist Nationality: North America, American
Medium and Support: Suite of seven black and white photographs and one text panel
Credit Line: Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin, Archer M. Huntington Museum Fund, 2001
Accession Number: 2001.50.1/8-8/8

Vito Acconci began his career as a poet. He has maintained his commitment to language throughout many decades of creating performance and photo-based works, film and video pieces, installations, interactive sculptures and playscapes, site-specific commissions, and more recently, architectural projects, both realized and theoretical. Highly influential and always ahead of their time, Acconci’s multifaceted works trace the trajectory of avant-garde ideas in the late twentieth century. His themes have remained constant throughout: the distinctions between private and public acts, the shrinking of critical distance between self and subject, the transformative capacities of both body and culture, as well as the value of play.
Trademarks, the early photodocumentation of an important performance piece of 1970, was reissued in a new edition in 2001. Here photographs and text record Acconci’s attempt to bite as many parts of his nude body as he could possibly reach. In the final image, prints from the bite marks confer a presumably collectible value upon the proof of this abject act.
In 1970 many artists were protesting U.S. foreign intervention in symbolic and allegorical ways. In this and other body-centered performances, Acconci drew attention to pointedly discomfiting and repugnant personal acts, thereby evoking the violence of the Vietnam era.

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