Face Off, 1972

PAL, sound, black and white

In Face Off, the artists shows himself in a reactional phase regarding his work. Vito Acconci sets up an audio tape on a tape recorder and presses play. He then leans over and lays his head on the table against the tape machine, with his face turned towards it. At some stages, we can only see the top of his head. The artist's behaviour evokes the affective register and withdrawal into oneself. The tape plays back the recorded voice of Vito Acconci speaking about the relationship between his work and his life. From time to time, at regular intervals, he breaks in on his words to shout negative phrases: "No, no, no, don't tell this, don't reveal this […]" . His voice contains emotions such as anger and masks or censors the recorded speech.
Face Off
is a workshop video. It presents an intimate relationship between the artist and his work from which the spectator is usually excluded. The soundtrack is a medium used in other works by Vito Acconci and one of its functions is to open up communication by making the spectator react. But here, the artist uses it in isolation; by his negative reactions, he pushes into the background a past episode in the confrontation with his work and rejects his previous intentions and answers. Unlike the psychological point of view given here, in Home Movies (1973) Vito Acconci deals with the same subject, but places the relationship to his work in a relational structure between the artist, his partner and the spectator (or the art world).

Thérèse Beyler