Like climbing Mount Rushmore, or like entering the mouth of a whale in an amusement park, Face of the Earth by Vito Acconci (b.1940, New York City, NY) is both fun and scary. It is at once monument and mythic playground. The 32’ x 28’ x 30” stepped, Astroturf-covered, head-shaped mini-park—with seating arrangements in the eyes, nose and mouth—is a place for people to meet, sit together, and talk.
Acconci’s concern for immediate access to his work, for the art-initiated as well as the general public, has led to his utilization of architectural conventions, and of easily identifiable images and forms in his work, which invite participation and let viewers feel literally at home. In Face of the Earth, Acconci takes a staple of many myths—personification of landscape—and produces, through the combination of pop iconography and architectural utility, a “down to earth” figure that can be walked through and—to some extent—even lived in. While big enough to swallow you up, Face of the Earth is at the same time inviting—a “friendly” resting place. At the heart of Acconci’s serial paradox of creation and destruction rests the inescapable contradictions of co-existence, which he exposes for our enlightenment and dismay.
Supported by the Public Art Fund, Inc., which is supported, in part, by anonymous contributions and by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York State Council on the Arts and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.
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