“One thing I am obsessed with is giving viewers choices.
Not to have only one entry, only one kind of path.
Spin-offs are important. Spin-offs are like parenthetical phrases.
There is no parentheses… I’m sure this idea started for me with writing”
The activities and the performances from 1969 to 1973 are real body-works. The perfomance of Trademarks (1970) is in this sense emblematic: the body is intended as a real and actual print media. He bites every part of his body which he manages to reach and covers it with ink, leaving his fingerprints on various materials such as paper, walls and other bodies. Only through the superficial knowledge of our body we can achieve a deeper knowledge: “Show myself to myself – show myself through myself – show myself outside…”. The language is the basis of all his body-works, it is seen not as an abstract phenomenon but as a material that needs to be activated and made tangible through experience, it is also used in the form of narration.
If Fontana rips and cuts the canvas, Acconci tears and modifies his body, sometimes even performing debilitating operations (as in Step Piece; Rubbing Piece; Soap & Eyes; Hand & Mouth, Open; Close; See Through to name just a few). All activities up to 1971 are documented with photos and by films shot in Super 8.
With the Seedbed performance of January 1972 at the Sonnabend Gallery he starts being part of the official gallery circuit. He is signed by Ileana Sonnabend, therefore becoming a full time member of that group of artists that are recognized by the general public. The public performances allow Acconci to manipulate, not only the body, but also the space of the gallery. The body engages into a relation with the modified environment, losing its leading role. The space of the gallery, malleable at will, complicates the artistic experience due to a greater freedom of movement that expands his interests. The public is treated with neutrality, he addresses everyone indiscriminately, in search of a utopian complicity, but mainly he turns to himself, in an interior discourse that is externalized for fruition.