Exhibited at the Los Angeles Institute of Contemporary Art, 1977
Vice was a viewer-engagement performance inspired by the allegorical story of Dante’s Divine Comedy. Dante dominated the structure of his epic poem with numerology and, in particular, the use of the number three. In the first canto of the Comedy, the author confronts three beasts on his pilgrimage, each one representing a particular vice: a leopard for maliciousness and fraudulence; a lion for violence and ambition; and a she-wolf for the sins of lust and adultery. Similarly, the viewer in Vice faced a trifecta, in this case three rooms through which one entered via a door painted red, black, or white with correspondingly colored interiors. Selecting and entering one of these three rooms, the participant was greeted by an actor who, over the course of 15 to 30 minutes, would draw out the viewer’s personal weaknesses or immoral or wicked characteristics, as metaphorically symbolized by the three beasts. These performances took place over three nights and, as appropriate to the subject matter, between the hours of 2100 to 2400.