Let's hit the ground running, shall we? In 1972, Vito Acconci stunned audiences at New York's Sonnabend Gallery when he buried himself, so to speak, under a ramp in the art haven and proceeded to masturbate, using the sound of visitors walking above him to spark his "sexual fantasies." He also used a microphone to project his ongoing monologue -- basically, a series of very dirty thoughts -- to the entire room. The performance was, as you might expect, pretty controversial. Despite the obvious sexual undertones, however, the piece had broader intentions. "The troubled personality Acconci acted out resembles the paranoid, dissociated characters in American films of the era: Gene Hackman in 'The Conversation,' Robert de Niro in 'Taxi Driver,'" The Guardian's Jonathan Jones wrote in 2002.
In 2011, New York-based performance artist Marni Kotak gave birth to a healthy baby boy during a live durational exhibition titled "The Birth of Baby X." To do so, she built a home birthing center at Microscope Gallery (see above), invited an audience (and a doula) to oversee the labor and created a...
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