Vito Acconci’s Face of the Earth #3 is a soil carving that invites the viewer to activate the negative space of his sunken theater smiley face. Acconci’s dislocations of familiar things into unlikely contexts jolt the viewer from passive looking to a more active questioning.Face of the Earth #3 rejects the pedestal tradition by putting a jack-o-lantern expression into the earth. Instead of looking up at it, the viewer steps down into its eyes, nose, and mouth and can sit in the skull-like cavities. It proposes that a bland, easy-to-“understand,” ingratiating face is what the public says it wants in public art. Both its interactive nature and its sense of humor are characteristic of Acconci’s work.
Courtesy of Laumeier Sculpture Park.
Year Completed: 1988
Material: Natural concrete, gravel, reinforced rods, sod and earth
Donor: Laumeier Sculpture Park commission and gift of the artist