Vito Acconci: Three Radical Actions

A pioneer of performance art talks about three groundbreaking actions he staged in New York in 1972

In January 1972 artist Vito Acconci staged three groundbreaking actions at the Sonnabend Gallery in New York

In Seedbed he positioned himself in the confined space under a specially constructed ramp and repeatedly masturbated, using the sound of visitors walking above him to fuel his sexual fantasies.

Transference Zone took place in a small room containing photographs of seven people who had an important place in the artist’s life, along with some of their possessions. If a visitor knocked on the door, he would invite them in and respond to them as if he or she were that person.

For Supply Room, Acconci stood blindfolded in a corner screened off by netting, while his companion Kathy Dillon sat in the opposite corner. Her voice was audible on a pre-recorded monologue, inviting women entering the space to kidnap Acconci and take him prisoner.

The three performances reflect Acconci’s interest in the interplay between the psychological and the social, and the overlapping boundaries of interior and exterior. They are seen as among the most important live artworks of the decade.

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