In 1969, Vito Acconci documented a piece in which he followed unknown subjects through the city and wrote down the details of his following on note cards. He did this until they entered a “private” space. Through a very simple act, he doubled the space of the city, folded it, and changed it according to a simple formula. In 1972, in a very different act, Acconci, created a sloped floor in the New York Sonnabend Gallery, and masturbated to the sound of strangers footsteps. In 2001 Sanja Ivekovic recreated a statue of Luxemburg’s Gëlle Fra as a pregnant “Rosa Luxembourg”, repeating the symbol and the monument folding history back into itself through the space of the city. In 1979 she performed Triangle, in which read on the balcony of a state owned apartment, presumably masturbating, as the motorcade of Tito went by, and whose performance was by an agent observing from the roof of an nearby building and a policeman on the street. Susan Lacy’s “Between the Door and Street,” invited feminists to discuss women’s issues on the stoops of a block in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn. Thomas Hirschorn installed the Gramsci Monument in a low-income housing project in the Bronx of New York, which operated as a social local hub for lectures, poetry, newspaper publications, a Gramsci Museum, and a radio station.
Each of these practices constitute different spaces, interventions, scenarios. They rearrange what is always already experience of the city, of its history, of our relationships, but now have to confront in an explicitly different way. Through this repetition space becomes a question for the viewer rather than an assumption. In many ways also, this is a particular bind already outlined in Walter Benjamin’s “Author as Producer” – what is the thinnest area between a political content and an aesthetic technique, where do they fold and double up? More contemporary practices, such as Elmgren and Dragset’s When a Country Falls in Love with Itself (2008), introduce a specific problem where narcissism is introduced into the global audience as the irony of their own (global) desires. By contrast, early social political projects, such as Mierle Ukele’s The Social Mirror (1983) taken on the audience of the parade in which irony cannot play such a specific role and the difference between the two critical approaches becomes more pronounced.