Monday, April 30, 2018

Gordon Matta Clark @ The Bronx Museum


       Philip Johnson once said that architecture is the art of how to waste space. Gordon Matta-Clark has quite obviously mastered such art, with his signature site-specific cuts and slices through abandoned buildings. The conical holes in a pre-bulldozed 17th-century Parisian townhouse and the rectangular cutouts through floors of many Bronx buildings are best examples of such artistic talent. Many people question whether or not he is an architect. I believe that he is more of a protest artist: like the title of the show "Anarchitect", he is a rebel that uses buildings as a medium for the expression of his political views. Visible on his floor plans and perspectives are remarks of protests against political corruption, goodwill for homelessness and defend against injustice to low-income households. 
        Matta-Clark's works are difficult to display in a museum due to their ephemeral and site-specific nature. The modestly sized Bronx museum underplayed the retrospective as it tries to incorporate too many works in its limited floor plan. However, the museum's close proximity to the sites of some of Gordon’s most prominent works in the Bronx adds immediacy to the exhibition. Walking through the 3 or 4 rooms, we can luckily see partial remedies of the actual artwork displayed. A chunk of wood from his Bronx Floors piece is displayed under photos of the work. Placed on a black pedestal, the chunk of blue wall-papered wood with sections of substrate still attached stands firmly against museum’s polished floor, and the juxtaposition calls for a displacement of time and space, adding another layer of meaning to the original intent. 
         The last room of the exhibition highlights two of Gordon’s most influential works- the Conical Intersect of 1974 in Paris and Day’s End of 1975 in Chelsea. The absence of the original work asks for a more well-rounded display of the piece through other mediums, such as videos, photographs, and paintings. As we understand that the original works do not exist anymore, the exhibition attempts to reconstruct the memory. Then the act of walking through the Bronx museum ultimately becomes a reconstruction of the destruction. 


  1. You have a clear perspective of Matta-Clark and articulate your opinions of his anarchitecture well. I would mention his bigger works earlier in the review and your 1st paragraph summations of Matta-Clark's work towards the end. I would like to read more about the absence of this work, and the idea of ephemeral works to begin with. Matta-Clark work was experiential and temporary, photographs and films documenting such occasions are really all that exist. I would critique the Bronx Museum in how they underplayed this element.

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