Seedbed by Vito Acconci
In his original performance of the piece, Acconci lay hidden underneath the ramp installed at the Sonnabend Gallery, masturbating. The artist’s spoken fantasies about the visitors walking above him were heard through loudspeakers in the gallery.
This is what I wrote before my live performances amalgamating my ideas and intentions:
For my live performance I will be blindfolded using participants to instruct me to do tasks with a range of objects. I will be a passive figure similar to in Marina Abramovic’s ‘Rhymth 0’ (1974) (top image) where she being completely passive allowed the public to do anything to her. I was influenced to use a blindfold by Marina Abramovic and Vito Acconci. In Abramovc’s ‘Clean the House’ she instructed the blindfolded participants to surrender to the space and ‘let themselves go’ (Allsopp/ deLahaunta, 1996, 14). Abramovic who was watching them states her experience when she found one of the participants ‘I found her moving through the building, completely absorbed in space and time, absolutely surrendered…Most people when they are blindfolded become very claustrophobic, very afraid.’ Whereas Pia (the participant) ‘feeling that it was ok to explore the darkness… Blindfolded the space becomes something else.’ (Allsopp/ deLahaunta, 1996, 14). Even though I will know an audience will be watching my every move, whatever the participants instructs me to do I will try to surrender to their commands.
The exploration into control will be very important. In Vito Acconci’s ‘Remote Control’ (1971) (middle image) Acconci and Dillion sat in two separate rooms in boxes with monitors showing each other. ‘Acconci attempts to control Dillion; describing himself tying her up, he wants to convince her to comply with his description’ (Jones, 1998, 134). Although I will attempt to surrender to their commands as much as possible the participants will try to control me with their descriptions. To some extent I can have control in the use of objects as I can anticipate slightly what the participants could do. Like for example I will not include scissors as one of the objects as I do not want them to tell me to cut all my hair off . However, obviously I will not be able to anticipate most of the participants’ decisions. I will be testing the participant as they could choose to physically or/and psychologically abuse me yet also have the choice to treat me more passively and kindly. Each performance will be different as I will be out of control in what will happen in the performance. However, this will allow me to evaluate similarities and differences between the participants’ choices and evaluate the psychological aspects of what people’s minds and thought when given the opportunity to tell someone’s physical self what to do. It will be an exploration into the connection from their mind to my body (who will follow their commands).
By having the performance a higher impact can be given to the audience and help emphasize the feelings I am attempting to portray in this project. Higher tension will be felt live as if the participant forces me to do something uncomfortable or horrible the audience will be able to feel the full discomfort I am experiencing. The audience’s presence is very important: ‘the involvement of people in live art is much more intense than what you can create with an object or with videos. There is a requirement that audience observe and reflect… We have learnt how to detach ourselves from photographs, monitors and projections. In live art the performer is not only responsible for the validity of the content, but also for the way and the impact that it provokes on those who see it’ (Miglietti, 2003, 240). By having cameras set up for the audience to be able to select parts of the performance to video or photograph I will be directly involving them in the performance. I will be giving them control, as the audience will be choosing what I the performer will be able to see and examine of the performance. This will thus question what the artwork is. Firstly the participant will be using their mind to use my body to create an artwork. However, then the audience will be taking the photographs and videos and selecting the final outcome of the work and its documentation.
I will have white paper covering the floor and two walls thus enabling the participants to direct me to paint/ apply materials to the surface as well as to myself. So over the days of the performance the space will become more and more filled with artwork created by my body but a collaboration of the participants’ minds. In ‘Eye body: 36 transformative actions’ by Carolee Schneemann (1963) (bottom image) she built an environment of broken mirrors, large panels, glass, lights, umbrellas; ‘I wanted my actual body to be combined with the work as integral material’ (Warr/ Jones, 2000, 61). In the performance I hope to also become ‘integral material’ as well as becoming a possible ‘canvas’ for paint and materials to be applied to. Also similarly to Yves Klein’s ‘Anthropometry of the Blue Epoch’ (1960) I have the possibility to become a ‘living brush’ and make imprints to my surrounding space.
Allsopp, R. deLahunta, S. 1996 The Connected Body? An Interdisciplinary Approach to the Body and Performance. Amsterdam: Amsterdam School of the Arts
Jones, A. 1998 Body Art/ Performing the Subject. London: University of Minnesota Press
Miglietti, F A. 2003 Extreme Bodies: The Use and Abuse of the Body in Art. Milan: Skira
Warr, T. Jones, A. 2000 The Artist’s Body. London: Phaidon