Round Trip (A Space to Fall Back On)

Vito Acconci (American, 1940-2017)

Not Currently on View
Image Licensing

Wooden stools and boxes spill across the floor, ceiling, and walls of this black corner, confounding traditional expectations of gravity. A viewer may sit on the solitary stool in this installation and feel disoriented by the arrangement of objects, lights cast from an adjacent podium, and sounds emitting from surrounding speakers. The artist's detached voice calls and responds to itself in a chaotic relay, loosely commanded by one "control point" speaker.

Since the 1960s, Vito Acconci's work with writing, performance, video, installation, and sculpture has explored the physical and psychological constraints of the human condition. Presently, the Acconci Studio architectural firm extends this consideration to the construction of public and private space. Round Trip exerts control over a viewer's sense of space by inserting unexpected color, sensory experiences, and laws of physics into the gallery.

Indianapolis Museum of Art: Highlights of the Collection (2005)

Vito Acconci's career, which began in the late 1960s, has included Conceptual, Performance, and Body art, as well as installation, sculpture, and architecture. Round Trip (A Space to Fall Back On) belongs to a group of installations that Acconci produced between 1974 and 1979 that incorporates architectural elements, props, and audiovisual equipment.

For this work, Acconci devised what he calls a niche that is both "in the middle of (and, by its nature, somewhat apart from)" the gallery. Lightly stained wooden stools and boxes of various sizes spill across the two black walls, the floor, and the ceiling, suggesting items that we might see in a typical home. This hallucinatory, disorienting space is far from a conventional domestic scene, however. A vacant stool beckons the viewer to sit down across from a black podium that supports three spotlights and a speaker. The lights shine brightly into the area, blinding the viewer. The artist's voice and other unexpected sounds, such as a knocking, emanate from the podium, then move around the space, projecting from speakers hidden inside three boxes, before returning to the podium. This disconcerting work, which resists a coherent narrative interpretation, reveals the artist's powerful ability to force the museum visitor into an objectified role despite the artist's physical absence.

I want to put the viewer on shaky ground so he has to reconsider himself and his circumstances.
-Vito Acconci, 1981

Object Information

Vito Acconci (American, 1940-2017)
creation date
stools, boxes, audio tape
Dimensions variable
accession number
credit line
Gift of the Alliance of the Indianapolis Museum of Art
© Vito Acconci
Contemporary Art

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