Germano Celant, The physical language of Vito Acconci

This article was originally published in Domus 509 / April 1972.

Although this article does not focus on Acconci’s use of voice – in fact it omits reference to it all together – Celant develops the idea of Acconci employing a physical language in his work of the late 60s and throughout the 70s. The ‘physical’ in Celant’s text is understood as ‘concrete’, ‘vital’ and is activated through an exchange of energies. The body in Acconci’s work is understood as that which receives and transmits signals/information with other bodies. This notion of physical language can be extended more specifically in terms of Acconci’s use of the voice.

Celant states:

‘Every datum is a datum of experiential communication. There are no mental relationships, only physical-relationships.’

‘Presence is what Vito Acconci has assumed as his only system for transmission of signals between his own body and his human and objective surroundings. In 1968-69, he began a work on the unspoken and the “felt” and it slowly led him to look for a communicative, sensorial and sensitive relationship in terms of all possible media.’

‘This contact is no longer either an invention of images or of discourse; there is no longer an idea of life and of art, but rather a notion of vitality in which there is no rite, but simply a tension between two energetic poles; there is no artistic sublimation, but instinctiveness; there is no elevation of the quotidian to the worldly.’

‘It is a physical and concrete encounter between two surfaces in a violent and immediate exchange of energies in which the important thing is the direct dialog between two “bodies”.’

This entry was posted in Essays. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *