Acconci’s Pied-à-terre: Taking the archive for a walk

Article English OPEN
Bamford, K (2012)
  • Publisher: Routledge, Taylor & Francis

To kick the habit of conventional scholarship this article appeals to the affective draw of the archive via an imaginative pedestrian peregrination. It takes a walk through the uneasy spaces of Vito Acconci's 1972 work Anchors and listens to the dialogue of conflicting voices which still demand to be heard, forty years after their construction. It becomes unclear who is initiating the dialogue; the text is hard to read and perverse. The resulting disorientation of Anchors is matched by a later, larger, exhibition in Paris: Les Immatériaux, co-organised by French Philosopher Jean-François Lyotard. Here the labyrinthine confusion of spaces, sounds, smells and sights acts out an excess of information, echoing the affective intensity of Acconci's Anchors. However, the parallel between Acconci and Lyotard comes through a stumbling manner: eager to avoid the foot-fall that forms a well-trodden path the aim is to keep moving. We cannot dust off these archives whilst reclining in a recumbent posture; we must leap to our feet and become participants in their performance. Neither must we aim to decode the unarticulated voices which grunt and girn their way into our reading. Such bodily emissions were termed the ‘affect-phrase’ by Lyotard, not in order to decipher their meaning, but to acknowledge their effect in leaving conventions of communication provocatively unfulfilled. Let us proceed on foot.
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