Gordon Matta-Clark, Three Ways

An examination of an artist / anarchitect in three different settings.


Bingo at the MoMA




His accent is Italian, his tone bewildered incredulous. What is this? Why is it here? He owns several properties. Some of them have these kinds of window frames, and they are torture to work with. Impossible.




I, having come here just for these pieces, to sneak a touch when no one is looking, try to imagine finding the remnants of Bingo on the MoMA’s fourth floor with no prior knowledge of Gordon Matta-Clark. Not on the third floor, in the collection called Architecture and Design, but here, they have carved for him his own enclave near the elevator, glass walled, Midtown peering through. It surprised me when I turned the corner from Jackson Pollock. I stopped breathing. Momentarily.




I linger here longer. I come back with my daughter. She wants to see the chopped up house again and again. Day and night. Gordon Matta-Clark makes cuts. Those cuts last longer than the things he sliced open.


Splitting on Vimeo




If you extend the line beyond the wall you walk right into Splitting, looped continuously at the museum, it will disappear with the rest, probably soon according to the woman attending the room. But Splitting is always available in the ether, in the web.


Some things that barely ever existed are becoming easier to find.


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Like this house in Englewood, New Jersey, cut twice down the center. Two parallel lines that spread wide once a level of masonry has been removed. Long past occupation, awaiting demolition. It cannot last. For all the work he does it will stand for three more months.


Splitting is a film about sweat, the sweat of making something to make it. An artist perspiring shirtless, working with a chainsaw and beveller.


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“I was thinking about surface as something which is too easily accepted as a limit.”


Gordon Matta-Clark, edited by Corine Discern, printed by Phaidon Press (borrowed from, never returned to, the UVM library, the 50 dollar fine paid of far less value.)




A large portion of the spine has been purposefully removed, and you can see what holds a book together. The lines – horizontal, red – bind this, make it whole. The front cover is half the house in Englewood, the inside is pictures, essays, and the exchange of ideas and words.




Bingo, as it existed in those hours before being razed. The Splitting project, and how it relates to his understanding of architecture.


“Gordon Matta-Clark: Dilemmas,” A Radio Interview By Liza Bear.




(in regards to a Parisian student who called his work bullshit):


GM-C: There’s no reason why there shouldn’t be some anger. Because to some extent, [the work] also amplifies destruction…but I don’t try to make destruction into a beautiful experience by any means. I think of it as being part of an immensely wasteful condition.


LB: Right, but the element of destruction or destructuralization maybe would be a better word…


GM-C: …reorganizing a situation which, because of things beyond my immediate control, [is] doomed. [What I’m doing] is taking a situation at the last minute and trying to put it back into an alternative sort of expression.


What he is trying to do is take a doomed situation and change it just a little bit, right at the last minute.




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