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Vito Acconci

Claim Excerpts

1971

On View

Floor 5

Neil Bluhm Family Galleries

Artist

Vito Acconci (1940-)

Title

Claim Excerpts

Date

1971

Medium

Video, black-and-white, sound, 62:11 min.

Credit line

Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Purchase, with funds from the Film and Video Committee

Accession number

2000.160

Object Label

This video documents a three-hour performance by Vito Acconci in 1971, in which he sat blindfolded at the bottom of the stairs in the basement of 93 Grand Street in Manhattan’s SoHo neighborhood. Throughout the performance, Acconci swung a crowbar or lead pipes at anyone who dared to come near him and spoke to himself, voicing his increasingly violent desire to be left alone: “. . .I’m alone in the basement. . .I don’t want anybody to come down into the basement with me. . .” A video monitor was placed at the top of the stairs relaying Acconci’s actions live, so that visitors could either watch the artist from a distance or venture downstairs at their own risk. The territorial defense of personal space in this notoriously aggressive performance articulates a sense of isolation felt by many artists during this period of dramatic social change.

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