Vito Acconci

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Not on view



Video, black-and-white, sound, 62:11 min.

Aspect Ratio: 4:3

Accession number

Credit line
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase, with funds from the Film and Video Committee

Rights and reproductions
Courtesy Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI), New York.
© Vito Acconci / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York


This video documents a three-hour performance by Vito Acconci in 1971, in which he sat blindfolded at the bottom of the stairs in the basement of 93 Grand Street in Manhattan’s SoHo neighborhood. Throughout the performance, Acconci swung a crowbar or lead pipes at anyone who dared to come near him and spoke to himself, voicing his increasingly violent desire to be left alone: “. . .I’m alone in the basement. . .I don’t want anybody to come down into the basement with me. . .” A video monitor was placed at the top of the stairs relaying Acconci’s actions live, so that visitors could either watch the artist from a distance or venture downstairs at their own risk. The territorial defense of personal space in this notoriously aggressive performance articulates a sense of isolation felt by many artists during this period of dramatic social change.