25

– Autumn/Winter 2010

Events, Works, Exhibitions

Karl Holmqvist: Making Space

In the video Theme Song, which Vito Acconci made in Florence in 1973, Acconci lies on the floor, on his side, his face close to the camera, crooning. His softly spoken monologue is annotated by a medley of different pop songs playing from a cassette recorder - songs such as Bob Dylan's 'I'll Be Your Baby Tonight' - which Acconci switches on and off, and at times sings along to. The video taps into the power of the pop lyric to seduce both anonymously and universally, and Acconci's own commentary echoes this attempt at general seduction, playing with the multiple possibilities for an 'I' and a 'you': 'You could be anybody out there … there could be anybody out there… don't you want to come here? Sure you want to come here … My body's here … yours could be too…'

Theme Song was one of Acconci's last works before he moved from a poetic and visual arts practice to architecture, and so came at the end of a varied series of investigations into relationality. Works like Seed Bed (1971) and his writing for the journal 0 to 9 (1967-70) questioned the relation between people and objects in a space as well as the potentials for words, and in particular borrowed words, to trade meanings on a page. This hybrid dimension is crucial: Acconci's poetry was both influenced by concurrent developments in the visual arts in New York at the time - by artists such as Robert Smithson and Sol LeWitt - as well as by an experimental school of poetry that claimed writers such as John Ashbery and Jackson Mac Low as members.

Footnotes
  1. Quoted from Liz Kotz, Words to Be Looked At: Language in 1960s Art, Cambridge, MA and London: The MIT Press, 2010, p.170.

  2. See Karl Holmqvist, What's My Name?, London: Book Works, 2009.

  3. K. Holmqvist, 'Language Sausage', What's My Name?, op. cit., p.27.

  4. See Craig Dworkin, Reading the Illegible, Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 2003, pp.140-43.

  5. K. Holmqvist, 'Language Sausage', What's My Name?, op. cit., p.29.