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5. Vito Acconci's Seedbed (1972)
At long last, the chance to see this piece of Acconci's that everybody seems to know. As it happens, though, there's not much to see, and even less to hear -- the video's silent which, given the centrality of Acconci's vocalized fantasies to the piece, seems like either a perverse choice or a technical problem.
But, sheez, eight hours a day. That's commitment to a concept. I imagine medical professionals pleading him not to do it, insurance professionals denyng him coverage, legal professionals advising him to prepare his will. But art is its own cruel mistress. Here, the specific mistress is less video or film art than performance art that just so happens to have been briefly captured on film. And not well-captured, either; the muddy, discolored and indistinct image renders the gallery a grimy void and its visitors indistinct silhouettes.
To be fair, Seedbed isn't particularly well-suited to this medium in the first place. It's much better material for bizarre first-hand experience and/or scandalously whispered memory than the moving image. It might have been neat to watch various gallerygoers walk past the camera and with each one hear Acconci's accompanying improvised masturbatory fantasy, but the time has passed.
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