Along with his contemporaries
, Acconci began to use his body to explore issues of sexuality, gender, identity, and self-worth. Seminal 1970s performances included Trademarks
(1970), where Acconci bit every part of his body that he could reach, covered the bite marks with printer ink, then stamped them onto paper like personal logos. In Applications
(1970), fellow artist Kathy Dillon smothered Acconci’s bare chest in red lipstick kisses, which Acconci then rubbed onto the bare back of fellow artist
Acconci continued to make video and performance work, and exhibited them in influential galleries like Sonnabend, where he showed the controversial Seedbed, into the early ’80s. But he soon tired of what he saw as the egocentricity of the art world, and the pursuit of a personal practice. “I hated the word artist,” he said in a 2016 interview just before the PS1 retrospective opened. “The word itself sounded, and still sounds to me, like ‘high art,’ and that was never what I saw myself doing.” In response, he established his eponymous architecture studio, which continues to design public spaces like museums and parks.