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Indepth Arts News:

"Gordon Matta-Clark: You Are the Measure"
2007-09-16 until 2008-01-07
Museum of Contemporary Art, LA
Los Angeles, CA, USA

The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) presents Gordon Matta-Clark: “You Are the Measure,” a full-scale retrospective of one of the key figures to emerge in the generation of artists that followed minimalism. The son of surrealist painter Roberto Matta Echaurren, Gordon Matta-Clark (1943–78) produced an oeuvre of remarkable breadth, incorporating spatial, social, and psychological experiences. The exhibition celebrates Matta-Clark’s brilliance and the radical nature of his work in a number of different media: drawings, films, photographs, notebooks, and sculptures assembled from his acclaimed building cuts. A wealth of documentary material related to his interactions with architecture and space, community events, and collective activity is also included.

Organized by the Whitney Museum of American Art’s Elisabeth Sussman, Curator and Sondra Gilman Curator of Photography, the exhibition was on view at the Whitney Museum from February 22, 2007– June 3, 2007 and will be on view at MOCA Grand Avenue September 16, 2007–January 7, 2008. MOCA’s presentation is organized by MOCA Curator of Architecture and Design Brooke Hodge.

“MOCA is delighted to present this exceptional exhibition of work by Matta-Clark, a radical artist whose transformative vision has created a body of work that is a compelling and enigmatic composition of art, architecture, and performance,” confirms MOCA Director, Jeremy Strick. Matta-Clark’s most well-known works were his “building cuts,” wherein he excised variously shaped voids from the walls or floors of abandoned or soon-to-be demolished buildings to create spatial conditions that would radically alter the perception of the building and its surrounding environment, resulting in the shift of everyday experience into extraordinary visual and kinetic confrontations. The exhibition includes the notable work—and part of MOCA’s substantial permanent collection— Office Baroque, a building fragment made of parquet wood flooring, drywall, and wood, with a cibachrome print on Masonite.

“Gordon Matta-Clark’s work, especially his building cuts, has exerted a profound influence on generations of architects. His ability to create extraordinary and confrontational experiences has challenged architects to think about space in new and creative ways,” comments MOCA Curator of Architecture and Design Brooke Hodge. Gordon Matta-Clark studied architecture at Cornell University but never practiced conventionally as a professional. Instead, he married the idea of art and architecture to develop his artistic process.

In the early 1970s, Matta-Clark was interested in the idea of entropy, metamorphic gaps, and leftover/ambiguous space, what he called “Anarchitecture.” He had come to see buildings, rooms, urban spaces, neighborhoods, and places where people gather as situations in which his planned “interventions” could create something new. As exhibition curator Elisabeth Sussman describes in the accompanying exhibition catalogue, “‘You Are the Measure,’ plays on the ancient Greek formula ‘Man is the measure,’ substituting a 1970s subjectivity for a time-honored universal...Matta-Clark’s ad hoc anarchitectural ideas were funny, poetic, and the artist hoped, radically different from then-current social and architectural realities. He believed that, in any architectural program, plan for life, plan for community, or plan for art, what must come first and foremost is the ‘you’—the individual.”


The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated, 256-page catalogue, incorporating new information from the Matta-Clark archive, and containing essays by Elisabeth Sussman, Briony Fer, Tina Kukielski, Gwendolyn Owens, Spyros Papapetros, Christian Scheidemann, and Joan Simon as well as a comprehensive chronology.

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