Transgression, An Elegy

Sade does not give us the work of a free man. He makes us participate in his efforts of liberation. But it is precisely for this reason that he holds our attention. SIMONE DE BEAUVOIR, “MUST WE BURN SADE?” Vito Acconci, later to be known as the art world’s “godfather of transgression,” is crouched under a low wooden ramp constructed over the floor of the otherwise empty Sonnabend Gallery in New York. Apparently heʼs masturbating to sexual fantasies about the visitors walking above him, the soundtrack of which is projected through loudspeakers installed in the corners of the gallery. “You’re on my left . . . you’re moving away but I’m pushing my body against you, into the corner . . . you’re bending your head down, over me . . you’re pushing your cunt down on my mouth… you’re pressing your tits down on my cock… you’re ramming your

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