Vito Acconci

Constructed Situations Notes on Following Piece

In October 1969, Vito Acconci made his fourth Street Work, Street Work IV. He spent three weeks following randomly chosen people through the streets of New York. He would note down the date of the event (e.g. October 31, 3:44 PM), what the person was wearing (e.g. orange coat), and his or her movement about the city. We learn from Acconci’s notes the names of shops people entered, names of streets they walked down, and the addresses they disappeared at. Acconci also followed those who worked in department stores during their working hours, and he wouldn’t quit even when they entered a movie theatre or a restaurant. He would only abandon his pursuit when forced to by outside circumstances, such as when the person went into a locked building or got in a taxi. This so-called “documented performance” took place in the late 1960s as an undocumented performance and only later did Acconci ask Betsy Jackson to photograph his pursuits through his own neighbourhood, the West Village. The artist would return to his work, adding notes and comments, as late as in the 1980s when he was already better known as an architect and designer. Acconci’s interest in architecture and urbanism is already present in his Street Work. It’s no coincidence that the Architectural League of New York granted it financial support. The Museum of Modern Art in New York owns a proof of the performance: a storyboard on rusty brown paper, including photographs and hand-written notes. There are also diagrams and maps explaining relationships among participants and the purpose of the action. A map with routes marked in Manhattan and neighbouring quarters is also of interest. In comparison, the work owned by the Metropolitan Museum consists merely of four photographs of Acconci.

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Fotograf Magazine #30