August 27, 2019 - Canadian Centre for Architecture - Out of the Box: Rough Cuts and Outtakes
e-flux Architecture
August 27, 2019
August 27, 2019

Canadian Centre for Architecture

Still from a field trip to Splitting, Englewood, New Jersey, 1974. Videocassette. PHCON2003:0005:071, Gordon Matta-Clark Collection, CCA. © Estate of Gordon Matta-Clark.

Out of the Box: Rough Cuts and Outtakes
September 27–November 19, 2019

Exhibition opening: September 26, 6:30pm

Canadian Centre for Architecture
1920 rue Baile
Montréal Québec H3H 2S6
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“The challenge of the documentarist is to depict what is difficult to comprehend.”
⁠—Gordon Matta-Clark (Office Baroque,1977)

Next month, the Canadian Centre for Architecture (CCA) will launch the second part in its latest Out of the Box project, in which three guest curators explore a specific part of the CCA's collection and produce three exhibitions opening up new critical interpretations as part of the institution’s broader strategy to use its holdings to redefine the role of architecture today.

The focus for Out of the Box through 2019-2020 is the institution's Gordon Matta-Clark collection. Comprised of writings, photographs, films, correspondence, and selected artworks donated to the CCA by the Estate of Gordon Matta-Clark, this collection is a fundamental repository of documents and materials connected to the trained architect and conceptual artist’s finished projects and unrealized pieces. 

In Rough Cuts and Outtakes, the related exhibition that opens on September 26, curator Hila Peleg presents rare original film reels, working cuts, and videos from the CCA’s Gordon Matta-Clark Collection, many of which are being screened in public for the first time. This footage provides a broader perspective on the spatial and social context of the iconic projects realized by Matta-Clark in the mid-1970s—SplittingDay’s End, and Conical Intersect—while revealing the filmmaking process itself. Working edits show experimentation with non-linear narrative structure, creating a “free sequence of parts,” while original uncut reels communicate a sense of real time.

“Statements written by Matta-Clark reveal that these building cuts were initially conceived of as performances rather than objects. This ephemeral approach meant that few would have the opportunity to experience the works in their intended format, as they were all either boarded up or demolished shortly after their completion,” explains Peleg. 

“He therefore devised an elaborate documentary practice to represent the different phases and dimensions of these works as a means to convey the extreme physical action and energy involved in the transformation and subsequent demolition of each building. As a documentarist, Matta-Clark was committed not only to keeping a comprehensive record of his own artistic projects, but also, and with great intensity, to the critical observation, interpretation and representation of social and urban realities in all their complexity. He considered architecture to be dynamic by nature—part of a larger social and political system, conditioned by constantly shifting economic, cultural, and environmental factors. His sharp observation of the conflicts and contradictions taking place in the wake of widespread deindustrialization and so-called urban renewal—particularly in the context of 1970s New York and Paris—fueled his critical artistic response,” she says.

This approach is also evident in the rare outtakes from Food presented in the exhibition, which depict Matta-Clark’s compact social environment in the restaurantone of several successful community projects initiated and run by the artist and his friends to provide an alternative economic system and infrastructure for residents of downtown Manhattan.

While Matta-Clark’s works were a clear product of his time and environment, the themes he addresses in relation to architecture and urbanism—neglect and speculation, questions of access, corporatization and gentrification, history and memory—are as relevant now as ever.

On view between June 2019 and May 2020, the exhibitions in the Out of the Box series are the tangible result of a research program with curators Yann Chateigné, Hila Peleg and Kitty Scott, who have been invited to produce different thematic interpretations contributing and expanding the study of the Matta-Clark’s practice, using the CCA collection as an active tool, with design by graphic designer Joris Kritis. Taken together, these readings, which will also be published in a book in 2020 and further explored in a related round-table seminar, act as a tridimensional argument about Matta-Clark’s thought and art processes.

Canadian Centre for Architecture
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