Matta-Clark used a number of media to document his work, including film, video, and photography. His work includes performance and recycling pieces, space and texture works, and his "building cuts", a series of works in abandoned buildings in which he variously removed sections of floors, ceilings, and walls.
Matta-Clark also used puns and other word games as a way to re-conceptualize preconditioned roles and relationships (of everything, from people to architecture). He demonstrates 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.
"AN ARK KIT PUNCTURE, ANARCHY TORTURE, AN ARCTIC LECTURE, AN ORCHID TEXTURE, AN ART COLLECTOR..."
In February, 1969, the "Earth Art" show, curated by Willoughby Sharp at the invitation of Tom Leavitt, was realised at Andrew Dickson White Museum of Art, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY. Matta-Clark, who lived in Ithaca at the time, was invited by Willoughby Sharp to help the artists in "Earth Art" with the on-site execution of their works for the exhibition. Sharp then encouraged Gordon Matta-Clark to move to New York City where Sharp continued to introduce him to members of the New York art world. Matta-Clark's work, Museum, at Klaus Kertess' Bykert Gallery, was listed and illustrated on pages 4–5 of Avalanche 1, Fall 1970.
In the early 1970s as part of the Anarchitecture group, Matta-Clark was interested in the idea of entropy, metamorphic gaps, and leftover/ambiguous space. Fake Estates was a project engaged with the issue of land ownership and the myth of the American dream - that everyone could become "landed gentry" by owning property. Matta-Clark "buys" into this dream by purchasing 15 leftover and unwanted properties in Manhattan for $25–$75 a plot. Ironically, these "estates" were unusable or inaccessible for development, and so his ability to capitalise on the land, and thus his ownership of them, existed virtually only on paper.
In 1974, he performed a literal deconstruction, by removing the facade of a condemned house along the Love Canal, and moving the resulting walls to Artpark, in his work Bingo.
For the Biennale de Paris in 1975, he made the piece Conical Intersect by cutting a large cone-shaped hole through two townhouses dating from the 17th century in the market district known as Les Halles which were to be knocked down in order to construct the then-controversial Centre Georges Pompidou.
For his final major project, Circus or The Caribbean Orange (1978), Matta-Clark made circle cuts in the walls and floors of a townhouse next-door to the first Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, building (237 East Ontario Street), thus altering the space entirely. Following his 1978 project, the MCA presented two retrospectives of Matta-Clark’s work, in 1985 and in 2008. The 2008 exhibition You Are the Measure included never-before-displayed archival material of his 1978 Chicago project. You Are the Measure traveled to the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.
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