Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Vito Acconci "Undertone" (excerpt) 1972

Vito Acconci, born in 1940 in New York, is a well known performance artist. Many of his works involve the concept of endurance. In this video, “Undertone” from 1972, the idea of endurance involves skating the thin line between comfort and discomfort. This is a common theme with Acconci’s work. With “Undertone,” the comfort level falls on the audience more than the artist, like many of Acconci’s works. In this particular video, Acconci sits at a table and acts out the fantasy of a girl rubbing his thighs underneath the table. His rambling dialogue switches back and forth between the camera (the viewer) and himself. One thing to consider is that this specific video is just an excerpt, meaning that it went on for longer that what the viewer sees here. This video might not be an obvious example of endurance, but after thinking about the different ways a performance artist can exemplify the concept of endurance this video becomes a clear choice. As stated before, trying to find a balancing point between comfort and discomfort is an act of endurance. No one is forced to watch this performance, but anyone who does is bound to feel slightly, if not extremely uncomfortable. Forcing a viewer to question their comfort levels might not be Acconci’s goal for this video, or his other works, but doing so definitely gives a great example of endurance in performance art.

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