Two film documents from Gordon Matta-Clark.
Gordon Matta-Clark was one of the most influential artists of his generation in the 1970s, his premature death in 1978 put an end to a career marked by the rapid development of his critical methods in the fields of art and architecture. His ‘building cuts’, consisting of aggressive interventions on the structure of derelict buildings, are still regarded as emblematic works. Splitting, 1973, Day’s End, 1975, and Conical Intersect, 1975, soon became icons of urban activism. None of these constructions are still in existence. All that remains are photographic documents, films, drawings and, in some cases, isolated vestiges of the buildings.
OFFICE BAROQUE (1977 / 16 mm / 44′ 00)
Office Baroque is one of the most striking projects of the deceased artist, it is also Matta-Clark’s final film. Matta-Clark was able to secure an abandoned office building in Antwerp and tactically cut pieces out of the roof, the walls, and the ceilings. This was the artist’s second-to-last architectural project before his untimely death. Inspired by overlapping teacup rings left on a drawing, the carving was organized around two semicircles that arced rhythmically through the floors, creating a rowboat shape at their intersection. Matta-Clark described the piece as “a walk through a panoramic arabesque.“ As in all his interventions, the building itself constituted the work of art.
SUBSTRATE (UNDERGROUND DAILIES) (1976 / 16 mm / 30′ 00)
In this film, Matta-Clark explored and documented the underground spaces of New York City. The artist chose a range of sites (New York Central railroad tracks, Grand Central Station, 13th Street, Croton Aqueduct in Highgate, etc.) to show the variety and complexity of the underground spaces and tunnels in the metropolitan area. This unedited footage of New York’s subterranean life are full of lingering shots of heavy machinery and juxtapositions of sculpturally magnificent brick tunnels and little crops of mushrooms growing between the tracks on their floors.