Gordon Matta-Clark

Program 6, USA,1974-6

Silent and sound Video, 50:30 min

2010 Estate of G. Matta-Clark /
Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.
Courtesy The Estate of G. Matta-Clark & David Zwirner, New York

Gordon Matta-Clark, a graduate of Cornell’s architecture program, refers to his work as “Anarchitecture.” This was also the name assumed by a group of artists he co-founded with the aim to produce critical alternatives to urban environments.

“Compelled to focus attention on the dehumanization of the modern world, Matta-Clark developed a personal idiom that combined Minimalism and Surrealism with urban architecture His best-known works of the ’70s, including abandoned warehouses and empty suburban houses that he carved up with a power saw, offered potent commentary on both the decay of the American city and the growing sense that the American dream was evaporating. “[...] the crude homemade video ‘Splitting’ (1974) [...] shows the artist carving through the various floors of a quintessential suburban American home, literally splitting it in two. The act evokes the disintegration of the American family, as well as more personal trauma. “Yet its strength lies in the way it conveys the act of building, especially the violence. The physical process becomes more important than the final perfected vision. Shirtless and sweaty, Matta-Clark and a laborer are shown rhythmically hammering away at the house’s foundation and straining at the lever of a jack. As one side of the house is gently lowered, a split appears down its center, pierced by a narrow beam of light. “[...] that theme of transcendence through the ordinary is reinforced in Matta-Clark’s choice of subject matter: abandoned buildings and warehouses that, after his transformations, were usually demolished and forgotten.”