Director: Gordon Matta-Clark
Born in 1943 in New York. Died in 1978.
Selected personal exhibitions:
2006 — Gordon Matta-Clark, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid
1985 — 1989 Gordon Matta-Clark: A Retrospective, Museum of Contemporary Art Chi-
cago [University Art Museum, California State University, Long Beach, California;
Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Städtisches Museum Abteiberg, Mönchengladbach,
Germany; Kunsthalle Basel; Le Nouveau Musée, Villeurbanne, France; Museum van
Hedendaagse Kunst Antwerpen, Antwerp; Porin Taidemuseo, Pori, Finland; Reina
Foundation, Ministry of Culture, Madrid; Carnegie-Mellon University Art Gallery,
Pittsburgh; Brooklyn Museum; Mackenzie Art Gallery, Regina, Canada; University
Art Museum, University of California, Berkeley, California; Musée d’Art
Contemporain, Montreal; Herbert F. Johnson Museum, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York]
1974 — Die bemalte Untergrundbahn. Photoglyphen von Gordon Matta, Neue Galerie der Stadt,
Selected group exhibitions:
2005 — OpenSystems — Rethinking Art c.1970 — Tate Modern, London
1997 — documenta X — Documenta, Kassel
1971 — Twentysix by Twentysix — The Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, Poughkeepsie, NY
Courtesy of Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI), New York
In 1975 as a part of Paris Biennale the American artist Gordon Matta-Clark used his signature strategy of interfering with the structure of different architectural objects and cut cones-shaped holes in the XVII century buildings signed for demolition; then he filmed the painstaking process of his creation and its further destruction. The movie was called Conical Intersect and became of the most famous works of this legendary artist. The choice of objects for aesthetic intervention was not random; there was a former market place Les Halles where you could find resident houses and that was one of the poorest parts of the capital, and the government planned to make it a new cultural center. By the time of Matta-Clark’s project they had started to build the Center Pompidou that was supposed to gentrify the district. The public was clearly and quite aggressively against those plans, sometimes comparing it with Georges Eugène Haussmann’s activity, who organized a successful reconstruction of the city in the second part of the XIX century that made lower classes leave the center of the capital. Matta-Clark’s work turned out to be a loud comment on that public dispute, outshining many statements by its expressive power.
Conical Intersect movie is not a usual documentary, since its author always tried to give certain meaning to his video- and photo shoots by reg- istering all the stages, including subsequent demolition of his temporary projects, that gave a certain dramatic intensity to each movie. The video tells about the project creation trying to give the audience an understanding of monumental sculpture created by the artist and the effect of such an extraordinary plan. A complex geometric shape of the holes created a certain untraditional situation, that was an optic instrument giving a chance to look at the architecture of the city and even its social structure concealed underneath in a new way. At the same time this violated intrusion into a privacy of residential space, abandoned, but still having signs of human activity, helped the artist to attract our attention to routine nature of everyday life that is impossible to register from the outside, and that is fundamental for understanding of the current social structure.
Matta-Clark’s critical interest was a part of a research program centered around the status of city space. Deconstruction of the existing order via intrusion into physical appearance of the city was made literally; the architecture body itself was dissected and, thus, given a new meaning. Firstly paradoxical creations were never meant to be strictly plastic and formal; each of them had strong manifestation, sometimes having political flare. Through using those old, abandoned buildings the artist tried to draw attention to the problem of architectural objects place in the hierarchy of modern economic processes. Their transfer from the exhausted utilitarian field to an aesthetic one has a special political dimension to it. Author’s signatory manipulations create new ways to inform the society on the things it forgets so easily about: what was used by global capital to extend its own possibilities or even to become its own qualitative substitute, but after depleting its resources it was signed up for destruction.
Architectural reality becomes an object of modern study and its specific relationship scheme: between a person and authorities, between manage- ment systems and uncontrolled behavior. In Matta-Clark’s projects it merges with a high level of poetry and even mythology that influenced artist’s scenes of “aesthetic crime”. There also is a question on evaluation of vandalism being direct and obvious critical gesture for new reality revelation through demolition.