From July 10 through August 19, the Philadelphia Museum of Art presents Vito Acconci's Running Tape, a 1969 audio work only recently restored and made available for public presentation. This thirty-minute piece can be heard continuously in the Video Gallery of the Museum (Gallery 181).
Running Tape was made in New York City's Central Park on August 26, 1969, and is one of a group of Acconci's so-called "tape situations" from this time. Acconci (American, born 1940) described the making of this experimental piece as follows: "Cassette recorder on my belt, microphone in my hand. Running and counting each step as I run. When I have to - when my words get jumbled, when I'm out of breath-I stop and breathe into the microphone, catching my breath until I can continue my run, continue my count." A private performance enacted in a public space, Running Tape reflects the impulse of many artists in the late 1960s to reject the commercial practice of creating art objects to be bought and sold. Here Acconci uses his body as a medium. Applying to it the pressure of an endurance test that requires physical and mental exertion, including speech, the artist has transformed his voice and breath. The only record of this transformation and this event is the recording, a pioneering example of sound art, and a remarkable document of Acconci's quiet, situation-specific intervention into urban space.
Vito Acconci was born in Bronx, N.Y. in 1940, and began his career as a poet. In his first work in a visual art context in the late 1960s and early 1970s, the artist used his own body as a subject for photography, film, video, and performance. In the mid-70s, Acconci created audio/visual installations that turned exhibition spaces into community meeting places. Most recently, the artist has focused on architecture and landscape design that integrates public and private space. He lives and works in Brooklyn, N.Y.