Vito Acconci: Self/Sound/City

  • 22 April 2005 - 12 June 2005

Vito Acconci, film and video artist, poet, performer and architect, has spent over thirty-five years exploring the relationship between the body and public space. In close partnership with Acconci himself and Acconci Studio, FACT presents a unique exhibition that explores the relationship between his early and current practice.

Introduction by Ceri Hand, Director of Exhibitions

New York based Vito Acconci is one of the most renowned and influential artists practising today. I first encountered his film and video work as a practising artist, when I would often skulk off to the library at Central Saint Martins College of Art in London, in search of inspiration. Locking myself into one of the video booths there, I would while away hours watching artists' videos, taking notes and thinking of ways to be as original and ingenious myself. At a particularly low ebb one day, all bound up in existential angst, I stumbled across Theme Songs - a tape by Vito Acconci from 1973. Up close and personal, Acconci challenged me, scared me, sang to me, spoke to me…at least that's how it felt, and in that moment I knew this was the art that I had hungered for, this was the art that would change my life…And it did. Fifteen years later, now as Director of Exhibitions, I am continuously considering this relationship, between the artist and the audience, the power of art (particularly media art), to shift and change our directions, our perceptions, challenge our conventions, our uses of language, space, and the territories we occupy.

On a research trip to New York last year I visited the Barbara Gladstone Gallery to see Vito Acconci's show Diary of a Body. And there I was again, the hairs on the back of my neck standing up on end, remembering, through this selection of archive materials, how and why he managed to affect me - and a million others - so profoundly. His pioneering film and video work, and the texts that preceded them, still resonate today, still challenge what it is to be alive, to occupy our bodies and the space around us, to relate - to love, to hate and to desire, to explore the light and the dark side. The early works in film and video, with their intensely original, seemingly personal and resonant explorations of the self, in relation to others (an enduring pre-occupation for Acconci) and the film/video camera, continue to be referenced by new generations of artists, television and filmmakers.

Self/Sound/City reflects the development of Acconci's artistic practice, from the late 1960s and 1970s - where he produced a prolific body of conceptual film, video, text and performance work - through his shift in the 1980s towards creating public art works, furniture and mobile architecture, to the current day - which sees him working with a collective of artists and architects at Acconci Studio.

The show also highlights how the power and play of text and language informs his work in all media - from video to architecture.

Gallery 1 presents original documents, films and videos from the Acconci 1969-1973 archives, for the first time in the UK.

On the stairway leading up to Gallery 2 a selection of works from the 1980s - interactive installations and public art works, adaptable furniture and architecture - demonstrate Acconci's growing interest in, and relationship with, the audience and the public.

Focusing on the move into architecture and public realm projects, Gallery 2 showcases three films that take a journey through Acconci Studio's practice to date, screened in a specially built environment designed by Acconci Studio. The films also reveal the part that new technology now plays in Acconci's work - from drawing to the realisation of architectural models and public art projects.

The wall outside Gallery 2 represents current Acconci Studio projects and projected around the building are works from throughout his career that share similar themes and concerns featuring throughout the entire exhibition.

The Media Lounge presents a selection of Acconci's key audio works and the Acconci Remix Studios invite you, the audience, to create your own work from the Acconci archives and combine them with a diverse range of other audio samples, selected by Acconci Studio.

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