Open Book (January 2012)

Yasi Ghanbari addresses the viewer while attempting to speak for nine minutes without closing her mouth. Watch an excerpt of the original work by Vito Acconci here.

Yasi Ghanbari (b. 1984) is an artist living and working in Chicago. She received a BA from Oberlin College in 2007 and an MFA in Film & Video in 2010 from School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Her recent areas of interest include, but are not limited to, the following: Eleanor Roosevelt/horticulture, defense mechanisms, “installation”, masterworks, feminism, set design, bio pics, interpassivity, guilt, reference, “mark making”, and Sigmund Freud.

The idea of reenactment seems to have become an intuitive process. Children reenact the fights of their parents, art students reenact styles/ways of painting to “learn,” etc. Despite the intuitive nature of this act, when approached about reenacting an Acconci video, I was still curious about this exact choice. Perhaps I wanted to ignore Acconci, as I am also a person who has made low-fi performance based video alone in my bedroom. Perhaps I am still not open to examining my relationship to him, but I will say that participating in this project was very interesting. Reenacting Acconci (Acconci, one name, like Madonna) videos, only using contemporary female artists, on the surface, seems to be a defiant act. But I might argue that reenactment in this case was not about defiance, but about creating something new. It was an opportunity to make the past not so distant and ask where we stand.

– Yasi Ghanbari

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Sounding Board (December 2011)

Video

Gordon Hall lies on top of speakers playing a track list she has selected. Jillian Soto interprets and reacts to the music on Gordon’s body, so that Gordon feels the music coming through her body from the speakers and simultaneously feels Soto’s reactions to the music and to her body. Watch an excerpt of the original work by Vito Acconci here.

Gordon Hall is an artist and writer based in New York and director of the Center for Experimental Lectures.

Jillian Soto is an artist and writer. Soto’s videos, performances, and sculptures have been presented extensively throughout the United States as well as published work appearing in multiple magazines. In 2006 Soto received a BA in Studio Art from San Francisco State University and an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2011. Soto lives and works in New York.

Collaboration

As we began the Every Acconci project at the end of 2011, a collaborative aspect with our performers emerged. We are producing videos not with actors or people acting simply as stand-ins for Acconci, but with mostly female artists based in Chicago whose work resonates with the specific Acconci videos we are remaking. These women become performers and collaborators in each video. Using Acconci’s original performances as texts and working within the parameters we set, they are free to interpret Acconci’s performances as they wish. Some stray far from the original works, though the seeds remain recognizable. The results are collaborative performances created for video in which highly personal aspects of each person’s work and personality are tangibly present.

With each video posted we include short biographies and links to websites for the artists/performers, who also have the option to provide a written response to the process of making the video or to the finished work. The heart of the project remains deliberately local, focusing on artworks in the collection of the Video Data Bank in Chicago and creating a visible network of diverse and incredibly talented artists based in or connected to Chicago, many of whom have personal and professional relationships. The result is a call and response form of conversation among our work, created not only through the blog, but through the performances and videos themselves.