Thursday, March 22, 2007
Vito Acconci's "Trademarks" (1970). Whilst sitting in front of a camera Acconci performed a series of contorted poses and bit into his arms, legs and shoulders, resulting in impressions of his teeth left on his skin. He then covered these marks with printers ink and used them to stamp various surfaces, illustrating the bodies attack on itself while also criticizing the social institutions of art and the economy, by referring to the commercial practice of branding (marking) a product for the purpose of exchange (trade).Trademarks was not carried out in front of a live audience. Instead photos where reproduced for the fall 1972 issue of Avalanche magazine, which included a text written by Acconci and a series of photos of the performance. Photo-documentation is an element that one cannot overlook for it changes the experience of the viewer entirely. Additionally, it is an element that creates even more masochistic contracts. The photographs of the artists bitten body engages the viewer's sense of touch and draws the viewer closer to the artist's body while also demonstrating the impossibility of such closeness through the presence of the photographs skin. Hence conflicting sensations of present and past, closeness and distance, attachment and alienation are felt. Although there is this distance, the viewer feels like the masochistic accomplice for without the viewers gaze the piece remains incomplete.