Vito Acconci

1940, New York - 2017, New York.

Bodies in the Park, 1985
Sculpture set, metal, wood, plastic and astroturf

MAMCO Collection, Geneva
Donation from the Centre d’art contemporain de Genève

A unique figure in contemporary art, the American artist of Italian origin Vito Acconci has long worked to break the boundaries between private and public, artistic creation and daily life, conceiving works on a human scale, often with a light touch of humour. After publishing a collection of poems, he turned to the visual arts with a work centered on the body, which took the form of provocative physical performances from very early on, making him known within the New York scene. From the 1980s onwards, after integrating videos and installations into his work, he was also interested in architecture, urban planning, and landscaping, conducting studies to create shared spaces for meetings, exchanges, debates, and games. 

His unclassifiable practice constantly challenges the public, possibly the citizens: from the space of the page to the one of the city, he jostles, provokes, creates ambiguous universes, forcing questions and direct participation. ‘Bodies in the Park,’ a set of sculptures covered with artificial foliage, first evokes the topiary art characteristic of the French garden. However, rather than making country-style plant sculptures representing, for example, animals or trees, here the human silhouettes are cut like hedges in a garden. The ensemble proposes a rather radical vision of the idea of “becoming one” with one’s environment, eliminating the border between human and nature, between organic and mineral matter, between image and self-image. Human becomes his own support (chair and table), his own shelter (human arbor), nymph and bench: the body imposes its power, defining his only decoration. Thus, the public landscape, the furniture that can be shared in the gardens, is transformed into a private and intimate space, full of humor and yet inaccessible.

Vito Acconci, Bodies in the Park, 1985 Exhibition view of Un Lac Inconnu, Bally Foundation, Lugano, Switzerland, 2023 © Andrea Rossetti