Vito Acconci (1940–2017) headed the poetry journal 0 to 9 at the end of the 1960s and created performances that put his body at the center of his artistic work. At the end of the 1970s, he questioned the public space, its urban planning rules and the way it is inhabited. Signs, body, and space are the main fields explored by Acconci, it is mainly his performance work which is present in the MAMCO collections.
On April 14, 1970 at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art (Connecticut), he set about singing a tune from African-American guitar player Leadbelly, playing on a tape recorder. He sang the first two lines of the lyrics and recorded them again, after listening to them, until he found his interpretation similar to Leadbelly. Then, he added two more lines from the song, following the same repetition and accumulation principle. Learning Piece is a performance that tests what the body can learn and to what extent the mind can memorize something. Acconci said it himself, this “work is used as a learning process.” The result takes the shape of black and white photographs and notes written on pieces of paper. In See Through, the artist, standing in front of a mirror, rests his head against the pane and pushes with all his might until the pane breaks and his image disappears. Originally, this work was made up of a 5-minute Super 8 film, three black and white photographs, and a series of notes laid out on paper sheets. In the version displayed in this exhibition, only the pictures and the notes survived.
For Combination, performed in June 1971, the artist locked himself up in a very small space for six hours, with three roosters as his only companions, and in Performance Test, performed on December 3, 1969 he stared at visitors, at regular intervals, while sitting on a chair. These performances were also recorded on photographs and notes. The work with the body implies that the recording is also an archive of what took place. Therefore, the objects that make up this display gain a hybrid status, characterized by the context of the emergence of Conceptual art. They possess both a documentation and exhibition value by showing a “dematerialized” work.