Vito Acconci is a New York performance and installation artist, designer, and landscape architect. And he’s been named Designer of the Year by Design Miami. Initially a poet, Acconci turned to performance art in the 1960s, using himself as a subject for photography, film, video, and live performance. In the 1970s, he began work on visual and audio installations.
The 1980s found Acconci moving away from art and delving into theoretical design and building, later morphing into landscape design, architecture, and Acconci Studio. He’s an artist who has had a rich mix of innovative (and sometimes scandalous) design ideas.
One piece in New York City is at the West 8th Subway Station, has undulating walls and seating that mimic the flow of water or perhaps a roller coaster. Its rolling path seems an appropriate design with the nearby attractions of New York Aquarium and Coney Island.
Not many artists can say they’ve made an island; but Vito Acconci can. He designed and had built an artificial island shaped like a chambered nautilus in Graz, Austria. There, visitors can enjoy a view of the Mur River by simply walking across one of the bridges. There’s also an amphitheater and café inside.
A beautiful waterfall designed by Acconci decorates the outside of the Newton Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant. “Inside meets outside, and vice versa. The floor inside the building and the concrete sidewalk outside slope toward each other and meet at the glass wall,” he says, going on to explain the interaction that occurs between the outside and inside of the work.
“I want a person not to be subservient to where they are but to be able to handle and change and adjust and adapt where they are,” Acconci explains in an interview with ARTFINO. “I would love people to have more power than they have. I think it’s important for people to be part of whatever they’re in. I don’t think architecture is ever going to be good enough until people start to be able to walk in and change the architecture themselves.”