Cutting Matta-Clark

Cutting Matta-Clark: The Anarchitecture Investigation
Mark Wigley
Lars Müller Publishers in collaboration with CCA and Columbia GSAPP, June 2018

Paperback | 6-1/2 x 9-1/2 inches | 528 pages | 813 illustrations | English | ISBN: 978-3037784273 | $39.00

Publisher Description:
The Anarchitecture group show at the fabled 112 Greene Street gallery – an artistic epicenter of New York’s downtown scene in the 1970s – in March 1974 has been the subject of an enduring discussion, despite a complete lack of documentation about it. Anarchitecture, a collective challenging all conventional understandings of architecture, has become a foundational myth, but one that remains to be properly understood. Cutting Matta-Clark investigates the group through extensive interviews with the protagonists and a dossier of all the available evidence.

Stemming from a series of meetings, organized by Gordon Matta-Clark and reflecting his long-standing interest in architecture, the Anarchitecture exhibition was conceived as an anonymous group statement in photographs about the intersection of art and building. But did it actually happen? It exists only through oblique archival traces and the memories of the participants.

This publication features unpublished archival evidence; The dossier is subjected to ever deeper forensic analysis – cutting into both the concepts and the cuts to see what the elusive, mysterious, seductive, yet viral word Anarchitecture offers us today.
dDAB Commentary:
Gordon Matta-Clark, who died way too young in 1978 at the age of 35, is a favorite of architects, if for no other reason than the way used buildings as canvases. But were the buildings that he sliced up before they were demolished the art? Or was it the photographs documenting the relatively short lives (relative to the time span of the buildings he cut up) of his interventions? Or going further, was it his preparatory notes and sketches? One answer, filtered through Mark Wigley's thorough yet circuitous and at-times perplexing investigation of a 1974 exhibition that involved Matta-Clark is yes, his art was all of these things. The buildings are gone, but the photographs (the primary way people become familiar with and envision his art) remain as do the preparatory materials and other artifacts in the archives of the Canadian Centre for Architecture, which Wigley raided for his forensic investigation.

The exhibition that is the subject of Wigley's book -- and the source of its perplexity -- is Anarchitecture, a group show at 112 Greene Street in New York's SoHo area in 1974. Turns out there is voluminous evidence of the exhibition's preparation and promotion but none that it ever took place. What was the exhibition like? What is the meaning of its name and how did it end up labeling Matta-Clark's art to such a great degree? And did it actually happen? The show and the mystery surrounding it is are excuses for Wigley's scouring of CCA's archives, unearthing of "evidence," and interviews with "accomplices," but they also allow him to run through many of Matta-Clark's artworks (especially the famous Splitting) that led up to the Anarchitecture show, as he does in the book's first section. While following Wigley's prose is for die-hard Matta-Clark fans, the hundreds of illustrations make for a revealing look at an artist who still holds our attention, even though he's now been dead longer than he lived.

Author Bio:
Mark Wigley is professor of architecture at Columbia University. He was born in New Zealand, trained there as an architect then as an architect then as a scholar, and is based in New York.
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