Journal article Open Access
Driven by capitalist society’s attention on the conduction of social life, Gordon Matta-Clark’s (1943–1978) art interventions during the 1970s challenged the materialist concerns of architecture as a radical struggle against the prevailing social structures. In the first step of the analysis, we recognise that neither his cuts into the buildings were examinations of the history and design practice, nor his provocative physical interventions were oriented toward a rejection of architectural materiality. Quite to the contrary, through the physical act of building dematerilisation it seems that Gordon wishes to disclose how different familiar ideas were in conflict with each other. Accordingly, we can interpret Matta-Clark’s activation of physical sites as a critical device for detecting how these “internal conflicts” embrace cultural paradox, new values and system of visuality. In fact, his ‘anarchitectural’ environments, to use Matta-Clark’s term, recalibrate our appraisal of his spatial acts along the political, aesthetic and cultural evolution of the city. Along what is considered the politics of radical practices, his spatial interventions appear to be ventures into disappearance, a dream-like state, voyage to madness, or into the energetic event that one can almost inhabit. Having engaged his viewers in what appears to be a radical rethinking of the status, history and purpose of the buildings, and their relationships in the urban environment, this activist mode of operation undoubtedly challenged the boundaries between architecture, everyday life and high art. Then, could the condition in which architecture contemplates both its ontological mode of existence and its relations to the outside world, be seen as an opportunity to destabilize the very terms of aesthetic experience? The aim of this article is to disclose Matta-Clark’s materialist concern as an opportunity for problematizing the rejection of logic, reason, and aestheticism of capitalist society and, accordingly, to expose architecture to new cultural intentions.