Gordon Matta-Clark

Gordon Matta-Clarke notes – in relation to holes, voids, method/processes and ideas: 

  • Holes in buildings – scale, space, tension in materials (destruction of ready-mades as the medium)
  • “Multiplicity” Artist who resists a single approach/style or medium. I can identify with this as a multidisciplinary artist using classic sculpture with other modern technologies. 
  • “Anarchitecture /anarchitectural deconstruction: defined by one of his art cards as “a simple manipulation of metaphoric ideas loosely related to a specific category, in this case architecture”.1
  • Juxtaposition of resisting museum context when the large scale of his work requires museum type documentation (photography/film) for present day appreciation.2
  • “W-hole house”, 1973 exhibition of third building alteration project. Using wordplay to emphasise coexisting emptiness and fullness of his project. 
  • “Spatial relationships / spatial paradoxes that complicate perception, disguising logic, conforming to the idea of sculpture and obscuring the original function.
  • Other notes I can identify within my own work: “Opening spaces to re-distribute mass” and “working with absence”.3

Additional thoughts: Matta-Clarke changes the environment, for example, with his cutout circles in buildings. My sculpture work is more focussed on changing the initial visual perception through abstract use of space to distort recognisable forms (the circle) into an ontological study of the “hole”. Deconstructing and reconstructing, isolating each component and carefully architecting into both a recognizable form or unidentifiable mass. His Conical Intersect, Office Baroque and Circus are good examples of creating circular voids in experimental ways, shifting the axis and perspectives of the negative space and its surrounds. Day’s End shows light reflecting through the cutout/hole onto the floor below. I’m still interested in altering space perceptions with projected light or reflections, and how I can position this within my own practice around positive/negative spaces.

Matta-Clarke also talks about using similar ‘treatment’ with different materials, such as his photographic works that document his live-sculpture performances. Liking the idea of ‘breaking’ a sacred photograph and negative (film strip) through collage or montaging, and how this mirrors his treatment of cutting up buildings. Documenting to capture the overall experience of the piece and what the space is all about.4

Extended lockdown ideas: adapt my materials and re-create my clay sculptures within the theoretical boundaries of studying holes. Drawing inspiration from Gordon’s fascination with time and change to create objects from his concocted recipes – using edible items (16). For example, I can create holes through fermentation, allowing the forms to take shape organically but still manipulating the space/scale it occupies with how I choose to display those forms.

Another artist who’s anarchitectural works are similar to Matta-Clarke is Richard Wilson’s Turning The Place over. Drawn to his gravity-defying mass scale piece (scale seeming to be an important factor in provoking viewer reaction), how it’s viewed by the public and their bodily reaction to the movement with the still building surround, “created an acute sense of disorientation and even danger for the viewer as the architecture physically encroaches on them.”Richard Wilson. 6

  1. Elisabeth Sussman and Gordon Matta-Clark, in Gordon Matta-Clark: “You Are The Measure” (Yale University Press, 2007), The Mind is Vast and Ever Present, 24.
  2. Ibid, Foreward, 9.
  3. Ibid,
  4. Ibid, The Mind is Vast and Ever Present, 21-22.
  5. Ibid, 31-33.
  6. Richard Wilson, “Turning the Place Over,” Turning the Place Over | Sculptures | Richard Wilson, accessed September 5, 2021, http://www.richardwilsonsculptor.com/sculpture/turning-the-place-over-2008.html.
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