Vito Acconci

Following Piece (document of the activity), 1969

Gelatin-silver print
Collection Fotomuseum Winterthur
Inv. no. 2003-037-001
© Vito Acconci

Vito Acconci
1940 (New York, US) – 2017 (New York, US)

The early works of the American conceptual and performance artist Vito Acconci revolve around interpersonal interactions between gaze and desire. In his controversial 1972 performance Seedbed at the Sonnabend Gallery in New York, for example, the artist is said to have masturbated lying beneath a wooden ramp, hidden to the visitors who moved above him but directly involving them in his sexual fantasies that were transmitted live via loudspeakers. This eccentric form of voyeurism was preceded by his work Following Piece. Between 3 and 25 October 1969, Acconci followed randomly selected residents of New York across the city, sometimes for hours, up to the moment when they entered their private spaces – of course without ever making himself visible as their "follower". The seemingly unspectacular photo collage transforms the traces of individual behaviour into publicly accessible documents, while the camera turns the people Acconci followed into participants of an artistic performance without their consent.