Seedbed (1971)

A low wooden ramp merging with the floor - it extends across the width of the room, beginning two feet up the side of one wall and slanting down to the middle of the floor. Vito Acconci lay hidden underneath the ramp installed at the Sonnabend Gallery, masturbating. The artist's spoken fantasies about the visitors walking above him were heard through loudspeakers in the gallery.

Seedbed operates as a performative work not only through its use of the body, but also through its reliance upon the ramp — the ramp could be said to make possible the fantasized moment of intimacy through its very operation of concealing Acconci the masturbator. Architecturally, the ramp creates a hidden space, embedded within the gallery as an anomaly, and yet acting as an “amplifier” for the desires of an individual body seeking its social partner. In this regard, the ramp suggests an “architectural performance” in which the negative space under the ramp allows something to occur within the gallery space.

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