Vito Acconci made the original Name Calling Chair in 1984. It was made, and sold, in order to benefit El Bohío, a community arts center located in the old Public School 64 at 605 E. 9th Street in the Alphabet City neighborhood of Manhattan. P.S. 64 had fallen into disrepair during the financial crises of the 1970s, and was resurrected by residents of the largely Latino community. El Bohío was evicted in 1998, and the building was nearly razed by developers. In 2017, Mayor Bill de Blasio vowed to re-acquire the building and to "right the wrongs of the past."
The Name Calling Chair takes on a special significance in context of this story. Its basic use of language relates to the school's history as a place of learning, while its simple structure and utilitarian functionality also harkens to the notion of classroom seating. It also rocks, however, suggesting whimsy and recreation. The hole in the center of the seat, meanwhile, when combined with the letters that make up the chair, create a perfect, basic insult. Following the original Name Calling Chair, Acconci created a limited edition of ten more in 1990.
Artist Biography: Vito Acconci (1940–2017) is immortalized in the art historical canon as a pioneer of the Performance Art movement. Born in The Bronx, New York, he earned his BA from the College of the Holy Cross and his MFA from the University of Iowa’s writing program. In the 1980s, Acconci turned to sculptural works and installation pieces, including furniture, and in 1988 formed an eponymous group of architects and designers who design public buildings and projects. He taught at many institutions, including the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, the Cooper Union, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and Yale University. He lived and worked in Brooklyn, NY until his death.