Following Piece 2008
Based stupidly on Chuck Baudelaire's concept of the Flaneur, Jean Baudrillard's ideas of simulacra, and after Vito Acconci's Following Piece (1969), Following Piece (2008) is not quite a re-enactment, but a reinterpretation imported into the Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas virtual dystopia. Supplemental: Following Piece is one of Acconci's early works. The underlying idea was to select a person from the passers-by who were by chance walking by and to follow the person until he or she disappeared into a private place where Acconci could not enter. (In this case the character CJ follows the person until either himself or the subject is killed by the inherent danger and violence of the world). The act of following could last a few minutes, if the person then got into a car, or four or five hours, if the person went to a cinema or restaurant. Acconci carried out this performance everyday for a month. And he typed up an account of each 'pursuit', sending it each time to a different member of the art community. Two experiences here were crucial. During the act of following, Acconci submitted his subjective will to the movements of the person followed. And he thus penetrated a private sphere even though he moved in the public domain. Acconci demonstrated that the urban public space is defined by the random encounters between people that take place within it. At the same time, he presents us the city street as a space where civil protection potentially breaks down. This performance is of special significance as here Acconci for the first time deferred from himself defining what course the performance would take. Instead, he accorded an important role to the participation of outsiders. I made my art by using other people. In Following Piece, the concept of the participation of persons who did not specifically agree to participate relied on persons who did not even know that they were being used. The actual piece of art unraveled without any one noticing. All the more important was that each piece was presented to a broader audience in the form of the typewritten records and the photographs. These form a constitutive part of the artwork. Acconci himself comments: I think for a lot of us whose work began at the end of the '60s there was a common assumption, the question is: is there a way to counter the notion of art as unique object? [...] In other words, people in general were thinking of art as a kind of distribution system more than as unique object, a kind of newspaper report. [...] So when I was doing a piece like Following Piece, there was no viewer or, if anything, I was the viewer. [...] I designed in the way a newspaper event is designed. The aim was to overcome the dividing line between artist and beholderaudience. On performance closely related to the concept underlying Following Piece is Proximity Piece (Room Situation) dating from 1970. Here, it is not the public space of the street but that of the museum in which Acconci went into action. He snuck up to viewers and stood unpleasantly close to them. By violating the socially defined borders of personal distance, he drove the person in question into a corner. He indirectly forced them to turn away and leave. (If CJ did this in his universe, he would most likely be shot). Violations of taboos and staged interactions, evoked, for example, by means of his own person or involving outside persons, are likewise to be found in performances such as Untitled Project (Piece for Pier 17), which focused on the exposure of unpleasant or embarrassing secrets, and Security Zone, which took as its topic proof of trust shown toward utter strangers. Here, Acconci increasingly accorded the viewer a more important role until, in his Command Performance  the beholder donned the role of the artist and the person of the artist withdrew from the works. In Command Piece you hear the artist calling on the viewer to perform certain actions and to then feel important [»You'll certainly look great there.«]. In the context of interacting with the audience, Acconci stated that his works had hitherto been too private ... I was afraid of going beyond myself ... and discovering the world ... you can show me, how strong you are ... big ... public.«  Acconci thus caused a confrontation in which the viewer was manipulated as a prop in a saidstic game, while the other viewers watched this voyeuristically on a second screen.