Acconci Chapter 1

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S.R.: Your very well-known performances are always working with the relation between anthropological surveillance, something like that, and surveillance or a science of the self, maybe, in an artistic way. [...] And I was always strongly impressed by and how you raised existential questions with your art. And the documentation of your activities came to a point that was very interesting for me to see how you came from this personal body language to a kind of a reflection of the self in space, and I always feel reminded of some theoretical thinking like Henri Lefebvre for example.

V.A.: O no, I read Lefevbre much, much later.

S.R.: Well that's amazing. But how did you come to that point that you worked much more on architecture? Because architecture is determining, determining behaviour. It conditions behaving of the body. So this is very interesting for me, this step, this development.

V.A.: It took [...] a number of steps. I mean in a lot of of ways, probably my work can be almost talked about as a child growing up. First you recognize yourself, then you recognize another person, then gradually there are a group of people. Then eventually – though this probably is a very traumatic moment for the child – you realize that you can leave the room and the room still exists even though you aren't there, and I think that's probably how I came to architecture. I wanted to make space for other people. Work for me began almost at home. I concentrated on me. I attended to me. I turned to me and maybe turned on me. It was a self-enclosed activity. I wanted to break the self-enclosure, so I had to bring in another person. But that really didn't break the self-enclosure it only made the self-enclosure bulge. The viewer, any possible audience was always outside. The viewer is an outsider and looking in on some secret. So gradually work started to bring in the viewer and that's probably when space became more important. The space of the body could be enough for me. Once another person was there, I had to provide a space where I could be one point in the space, a viewer could be another point. Once there were those two points, does one point target towards the other, does one point envelop the other, so different ways of a person approaching another, enclosing another. And by that time you're in the beginnings of architecture probably. Though, again, it took a very, very long time. Work of mine that dealt with person was I think a part of the time it came out of and probably it got all its subject matter from that time. It was the time of the late 60s, the early 70s, a time when common language was »finding oneself». So it was a notion of concentration on the agent, the instrument. After a while it wasn't the late 60s, the early 70s anymore, and I think I and a lot of other people had a different notions of the self. Self wasn't something that you concentrate on or contemplate. The late 60s and the early 70s probably thought of the self as this is something with which you (?) withdraw to a kind of meditation chamber. I can be alone with myself, as if that self is an object, as if that self is a kind of precious jewel. I think gradually 75, 76, 77, 78 I and a lot of other people had a very different notion of self: self was a system of feelers, self existed, self wasn't something you would drew in order to find, self existed only as part of a social system, a political system, a cultural system. So by that time it didn't seem so necessary to focus on person anymore.

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