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Hannibal Acconci (born January 24, 1940) is a Bronx, New York-born,
Brooklyn-based architect, landscape architect, and installation
His father was an Italian immigrant
who took him to museums and opera houses and gave him his first arts
education. Vito attended Regis High School on New York City. He
received a B.A. in literature from the College of the Holy Cross in
1962 and an M.F.A. in literature and poetry from the University of
Acconci began his career as a poet,
editing 0 TO 9 with Bernadette Mayer in the late 1960s. In the late
1960s, Acconci transformed himself into a performance and video
artist using his own body as a subject for photography, film, video,
and performance. His performance and video work was marked heavily
by confrontation and Situationism. In the mid 1970s, Acconci
expanded his metier into the world of audio/visual installations.
One noted installation/performance
piece from this period is Seedbed (January 15-29 1971). In Seedbed
Acconci lay hidden underneath a gallery-wide ramp installed at the
Sonnabend Gallery, masturbating while vocalizing into a loudspeaker
his fantasies about the visitors walking above him on the ramp. One
motivation behind Seedbed was to involve the public in the work's
production by creating a situation of reciprocal interchange between
artist and viewer.
In 2008, in an interview with Brian
Sherwin for Myartspace, Vito discussed Seedbed at length. Vito
discussed the title Seedbed and the connection it had to the
performance, stating, "I knew what my goal had to be: I had to
produce seed, the space I was in should become a bed of seed, a
field of seed – in order to produce seed, I had to masturbate – in
order to masturbate, I had to excite myself."
During the 1980s he invited viewers
to create artwork by activating machinery that erected shelters and
signs. He also turned to the creation of furniture and to prototypes
of houses and gardens in the late 1980s.
More recently, the artist has
focused on architecture and landscape design that integrates public
and private space. One example of this is "Walkways Through the
Wall," which flow through structural boundaries of the Midwest
Airlines Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and provide seating at both
Another notable example is his Dirt
Wall (1992) at the Arvada Center Sculpture Garden in Colorado. The
wall begins outside the Arvada Center and extends inside, rising
from ground level to a height of 24 feet. The glass and steel wall
contains a mixture of volcanic rock, various types of sand, red
dolomite, and topsoil which are visible through the glass panels,
and represents an attempt to bring what is underground up, and what
is outside in.
He has taught at many institutions,
including the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, Halifax;
California Institute of the Arts, Valencia; Cooper Union; School of
the Art Institute of Chicago; Yale University; and the Parsons
School of Design. He currently teaches at Brooklyn College in the
Art Department and Performance and Interactive Media Arts programs.
He is represented by Albion Gallery in London and New York.