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Gordon matta-clark
Conical intersect
Experimental doc. | 16mm | black and white | 19'0'' | USA / France | 1975
"Conical Intersect", Matta-Clark's contribution to the Paris Biennial of 1975, manifested his critique of urban gentrification in the form of a radical incision through two adjacent 17th-century buildings designated for demolition near the much-contested Centre Georges Pompidou, which was then under construction. For this anti-monument, or "nonument", which contemplated the poetics of the civic ruin, Matta-Clark bore a tornado-shaped hole that spiralled back at a 45-degree angle to exit through the roof. Periscope like, the void offered passers-by a view of the buildings' internal skeletons.
Gordon Matta-Clark studied architecture at Cornell University, but never practiced as a conventional architect. He also spent a year studying French literature at the Sorbonne in Paris where he also was during the student strikes of May 1968. It was in Paris that he became aware of the French deconstructionist philosophers and Guy Debord and the Situationists. These cultural and political radicals developed the concept of détournement, or "the reuse of pre-existing artistic elements in a new ensemble". Such concepts would later inspire his work. He is most famous for works that radically altered existing structures. His "building cuts" (in which, for example, a house is cut vertically in half) alter the perception of the building and its surrounding environment. Matta-Clark used a number of media to document his work, including film, video, and photography. His work includes performance and recycled pieces, space and texture works, and his "building cuts". Matta-Clark also used puns and other wordplays as a way to re-conceptualize preconditioned roles and relationships (of everything from people to architecture). He demonstrated that the theory of entropy applies to language as well as to the physical world, and that language is not a neutral tool but a carrier for society's values and a vehicle for ideology. Matta-Clark died from pancreatic cancer on August 27, 1978.