One of the more thoughtful and articulate artists of his generation, Vito Acconci began producing conceptually-driven performances in 1969 with Following Piece. In that work, he randomly followed strangers around New York City until they went into a non-public space. Since then he has often explored the relationship between the artist and viewer, challenging the very nature of the artistic experience.
In another group of works, Acconci tests the question: “How do I prove I’m concentrating on myself? I do something to myself (attack myself).” In Rubbing Piece (1970), he sat in a restaurant and rubbed his arm until it bled to see if viewers were more likely to approach him if he made himself vulnerable. In Trademarks, Acconci again puts his body to the challenge. Sitting naked in a gallery space, he bit different parts of his body in an attempt to reach as much of it as possible. His motive was “to move into myself–move around myself–move in order to close a system.” He then applied printer’s ink to the bites and made imprints of them, thus literalizing the idea of the artist as the maker.