Los Angeles

Vito Acconci

James Corcoran Gallery

In his current exhibition Vito Acconci installed five large-scale sculptures. Two gigantic steel bras each entitled Adaptable Wall Bra (all works 1990), ooze little balls of plaster from their wire mesh surfaces. Inside, the “Z” cups are lined with smooth plaster and fitted with little canvas seats, and a tape plays a recording of a woman breathing alternating with music from a radio station. Dwarfed and intimidated by these gargantuan heavy metal bras, a state of worshipfulness is induced in the viewer. They resemble complicated webby cathedrals towering high above the head and suspended at various points by steel cables. At the back of one bra three “eye” clips (half of the typical “hook and eye” bra closure) point toward each other in a moment of eerie tension.

Though an additional three sculptures, each entitled Convertible Clam Shelter, lack the scent of salt and sea, these three 1,500-pound industrial-strength plastic clams, studded with 1,400 actual bone-colored clamshells set in tan epoxy, come equipped with a warming light and a quiet radio turned to a random channel alternated with the sound of ocean waves. Adjustable to five different positions, they resemble a bachelor-pad stereo-sleeper console system. A nautilus-shaped perforated dot pattern near the radio speakers, and a thick rope coiled around its anchor are nice additions to the oceanic theme.

The clams’ presence in the room is absurd, and in the context of the bras they take on a sexual aspect. Standing on end the partially closed clam forms a huge slit. The bras, as disembodied fetishized references to breasts, exhibited along with the clams—an obvious vagina reference—are, like all good jokes, simple and somewhat dirty. Their strength resides in an intuitive approach that never stops checking its own pulse, temperature, and crotch.

Benjamin Weissman