It seems as if a UFO has landed in the middle of Graz: an organic form, evoking a half shell or a snail's shell, is floating on the Mur river as an artificial island, connected by piers to both river banks. The steel construction was designed by the architect-artist Vito Acconci, based on a concept by Robert Punkenhofer, a native of Graz, and realized within the scope of "Graz 2003: Cultural Capital of Europe." Acconci Island, consisting of various interlocking surfaces with flowing transitions, houses an amphitheatre, a cafa, and a playground. Large parts of its outer stainless-steel skin reflect the city; acrylic fiber, glass, steel grids, and peepholes provide a view onto the water and the banks, while the transparent materials make the building look weightless. The result is a breathtaking, technically sophisticated avant-garde piece of architecture that refuses categorization. This publication documents the different stages of design, and places sketches and computer simulations next to remarkable photographs of models as well as shots of the finished island. An interview with Vito Acconci and a presentation of the diverse work of the Acconci Studio round off the book.
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Text: Italian, English
Original Language: Spanish
Linker, an independent critic whose work appears frequently in Artforum, does a commendable job of elucidating the concepts behind the varied but consistently provocative work of Vito Acconci, one of the most influential artists of the last 20 years. As Linker vividly describes Acconci's startling 1970s performance pieces, she explains how they relate to his ongoing effort to define the "nature of the self." Acconci's tactics include breaching the boundary between self and society, emphasizing the self as a repository for experience, and objectifying the body. His early works include documentation of the artist trying to catch a ball blindfolded, making marks in his flesh, and, in Seedbed, masturbating beneath a ramp on a gallery floor, an example of his willingness to takes puns to unsettling extremes. Acconci shocks his viewers to incite thought: he doesn't want empathy, he wants action. This desire for action inspired his more playful and sculpturally complex works during the 1980s, including his clever mobile units, "self-creating architecture," and the wonderfully disorienting Bad Dream House series. A philosophical confrontationist with a keen sense of the dramatic and the kinetic, Acconci has altered and expanded our perceptions of art and its role in our increasingly fractured culture. Donna Seaman
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