Vito Acconci

Kate Linker, Author
Kate Linker, Author Rizzoli International Publications $50 (224p) ISBN 978-0-8478-1645-3
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The highly diverse body of work produced by Acconci, an American visual artist best known for his darkly comic, masochistic performances and installations of the 1970s, is usefully surveyed in this comprehensive mid-career retrospective. Much of Acconci's work turns on a confrontation between the artist and the viewer. In his notorious exhibit, Seed Bed (1972), he hid under a ramp built into the gallery floor and masturbated while an audio speaker transmitted his onanistic fantasies about the spectators above. In Untitled Piece for Pier 17 (1971), he invited viewers to an abandoned pier in lower Manhattan where he revealed secrets-which are not, however, revealed in these pages-about himself. Linker (Love for Sale: The Words and Pictures of Barbara Kruger) examines Acconci's efforts to define the vagaries of the contemporary self in light of critical theory by Roland Barthes, Michel Foucault and others. She also shows how Acconci's work since the '70s displays his penchant for lighthearted fun: he has constructed play houses with furniture shaped as pastoral landscapes, giant brassieres with seats for the viewer and public works resembling miniature golf courses with sliding floors, seesaws and vast stretches of Astroturf. (Sept.)
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