Acconci Chapter 3

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S.R.: So can we come back to this transformation of the performance.

V.A.: Maybe we should continue where we were talking about, when you were saying: can that kind of activity be done at another time? One thing significant about that time was that a lot of us... remember, that was around 1968, it was the time of student revolution in France, demonstrations against Vietnam war in the United States. It was a time when father figures could be toppled. One of those father figures was museum and gallery. I think a lot of us thought that art possibly is only the confirmation of a kind of class system. Art separates those who can afford to buy the art from those who can't afford it. Which is why I think a lot of us turned to media that resulted not so much in original every produceable. I think a lot of us were struck by the fact that when many people talk about a work of art they [...] haven't necessarily seen the actual work of art, they've seen reproductions. If that's true then you can ask the question: where does the art reside? Does the art reside in that original that not so many people have seen or can you maybe just as validly or maybe more validly say: the art resides in all those reproductions, no matter how »bad« they are. In other words a lot of us were starting to think of art not as an object, because an object can be bought but as a distribution system. And I think the keynote of conceptual art was distribution. Conceptual art was about rumor, reportage. You could get it by talking, you could get it by a report in a newspaper that anybody could buy. A lot of us had the illusion that we were going to destroy the gallery system. Because of the kind of stuff we did galleries had no reason to exist anymore. But of course galleries were stronger and bigger than we were. Conceptual art needed reproduction, needed distribution in order to exist, but that distribution meant documentation. That documentation could very easily be turned into a saleable by a gallery. So in some ways our need or desire for distribution totally subverted what I think a lot of us wanted to do.

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