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Colin Marshall

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4. Vito Acconci's Undertone (1972)
[View Film]

Because what we have here is a mere snippet of a larger work, I'm not sure how far my own comments should extend. But I do wonder if the whole thing bears the same world's-grubbiest-poetry-reading feeling. In the clip, Acconci sits down at a table, starts very deliberately talking about the girl he's envisioning "under the table" who's "slowly" rubbing his "thighs." Then he flip-flops, insisting that he wants to believe that there's nobody under the table, that he made it all up. Then he starts talking to the camera, pleading to the viewer: "I need to know that you'll be there. I need to know that if I were rolling toward the edge of the table, you'd be there to stop me." I'd say that's the creepiest element.

The Ubuweb entry quotes David Antin, who, in a 1975 Artforum article, describes the video's visual style as "exactly equivalent to the presidential address." Interesting comparison, though I can't say it would have struck me independently. What I'm seeing is more like a piece of performance art with a camera aimed at it, but our mileages all vary. On the plus side, he's wearing clothes!

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