Vito Acconci, The Red Tapes, 1977, video, black-and-white, sound, 141 minutes. Courtesy Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI), New York.


Artforum on the Cinema of Vito Acconci

By Amy Taubin

September 10, 2019

On the occasion of the multimedia exhibition Acconci Studio: VITO ACCONCI, FAULT-LINE-ON-5 at Pace Gallery in London, and the coinciding presentation of restored films and videos by Vito Acconci at Anthology Film Archives in New York City, Amy Taubin examines the artist's moving image pieces in (opens in a new window) Artforum.

"Oh that voice, that hoarse, insinuating whisper, which simultaneously sucks you in and spits you out. It was Vito Acconci’s stock in trade during the first two decades of his career, when he was what he later described as “a situation maker.” Acconci began as a poet, and language was central to his video and performance work. He began making moving image pieces, first in Super-8 film then in video, toward the end of the 1960s, when Minimalism had hit a wall but survived by embedding itself in Conceptualism, performance, body art, film and video.

Between 1968 and 1977, Acconci made close to a hundred motion pictures ranging from three and a half minutes (the length of one Super-8 cassette) to a hundred and forty-one. The longest, The Red Tapes (1977), was a summation and one of the great works of American avant-garde cinema, a bare but epic history of the self and of America, indebted to Gertrude Stein’s The Making of Americans (1925), Richard Hofstadter’s The Paranoid Style in American Politics (1964), film noir, and Jean-Luc Godard. Afterwards, Acconci turned away from the moving image and from what had been his primary expressive instrument—his corporeal presence, whether directly available to the viewer or mediated by the camera."

To read Taubin's full review, please visit (opens in a new window) Artforum.

  • Press — Artforum on the Cinema of Vito Acconci, Sep 10, 2019