The stranger slips further from our fixed gaze

Zwirner Gallery, Chelsea (Of A Woman As She Walked Away From Him) ©MAIERMOUL
Zwirner Gallery, Chelsea (Of A Woman As She Walked Away From Him) ©MAIERMOUL

One repeatedly gets the sense that Acconci, in using his body as his only reliable unit of measurement, is not only keeping tabs on his own existence but also ensuring that the tenuous thread linking him to all the other bodies flowing around him is maintained.

In one simple and unexpectedly moving work from 1970, *Withdrawal Piece*, Acconci planted himself amid the midday throngs on 7th Avenue and shot as many photographs as he could of a woman as she walked away from him down the avenue.

With each successive photo, the stranger slips further from our fixed gaze until she is lost to us, swallowed up in the jostling mass. The last frame, of a choppy sea of anonymous faces and sweaty bodies, is an image both banal and heart-breaking which connects Acconci not only to Whitman or Baudelaire, but to anyone who has been overtaken by the longing to be alone and perfectly at home in the crowd.

– James Trainor, Frieze magazine