This collectible figurine is a composite of several famous pieces by the performance, video artist, and architect Vito Acconci. The references depicted are from a series of pivotal performances from the 1970’s, including the Adaptation Studies, Supply Room, Trademarks, and Seed Bank, in which he masturbated underneath a false floor of the gallery while broadcasting his fantasies about the visitors walking above. Positioning his own body as both the subject and object of the work, Acconci explores notions of intimacy, trust, and power. With a strange mixture of deviant behavior and high concept, Acconci is a seminal figure in architectural, conceptual, and performance art.
The pose Vito strikes in the figurine references Michael Angelo’s David, the most famous work of sculpture in the world. It is also one of the most commonly purchased art replicas, from knick-knack sized to full-scale replica. David has long been considered the ideal male body. It is commonly believed that David’s genitals were created smaller to imply that David was not making decisions with pleasure in mind. It is widely considered the greatest work of traditional sculpture.
Both Michael Angelo and Vito Acconci have made their living through a relationship with the institution; Acconci with the Museum, Michael Angelo with the Church and the Arte della Lana. Commissioned for the Shadowshop, a project by Stephanie Syjuco at the SFMOMA, this collectible figurine is a continuation of a series of the artist’s works prompted by the economic crisis that concern labor, artist’s rights, and the complex relationship between art, commerce, and the institution.