The Red Tapes (Tape 2) (1976)

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Originally part of the second wave of the New York school of poets, Vito Acconci turned to video and performance in the late 60s. The Red Tapes, a three part, two and half hour video, is his most complex and involved work and the best statement of Acconci's philosophy of the artist as revolutionary and outsider. Through a series of staged, formally aware sections Acconci develops, visually and verbally, interrelated themes concerning the position of the individual in society and history. Acconci's voiceover establishes the historical dimension of the piece, both vast and personal, "Needle up/ The yearly movement of the sun/ We look the cross we/ Traveled back/ It was the old story/ The stone face." The most persuasive sections, owing much to Antonio Gramsci and Antonio Negri, feature Acconci's diaristic narrative over the top of abstract black and white architectural forms. These sections juxtapose massive architectural space with intimate personal space and position the individual within landscapes, both physical and historical. Creating a tension between word and image as well between performance and installation, Acconci defines the space and possibility of history and of an individual's place in it.