The following two paragraphs are quoted from Gordon Matta-Clark: A Retrospective, a catalogue that Keith found at a garage sale for 25 cents.

Beginning of quote:

Invited to an exhibition of work by architects and artists, “Idea as Model,” Gordon Matta-Clark elected to show not a new vision of architecture or planned proposal, but the current state of some architects’ model buildings: he displayed photographs of buildings in the South Bronx whose windows has been broken out by its residents. To complete the installation, Matta-Clark borrowed a BB gun from Dennis Oppenheim and blew out the windows in the exhibition space on the eve of the opening. His work was removed from exhibition and the windows quickly replaced in time for the reception.

One of Matta-Clark’s boldest and most direct statements on modern architecture, this exhibition offered him the opportunity to criticize what he felt to be a lack of attention paid by today’s architects to the problem of decaying buildings. He was disturbed by the attitude he felt existed on the part of many architects who saw them only as structures to be removed in the interest of renewal and urban planning, and constructed replacements that themselves soon became objects of decay. Matta-Clark felt that modern architecture was not meeting the needs of people, but rather was creating dehumanized situations; it had become an industry successful only in making money.

End of Quote.

Living in New York for the past year has meant that I take a daily walk through a couple of ghettos. I even suspect that I live in one. Decay is everywhere, but it is a kind of populated, active, loud decay. This is the architecture into which Matta-Clark inserted himself. It was the kind that was falling apart, messy, and polluted.

I can’t imagine having the nerve to pull off the stunt that I quoted above. I would have loved that show, if indeed we had been allowed to walk around in the broken-windowed exhibition hall. Matta-Clark’s architecture was often about people, but I think it was also about how hard it is to be a physical body in a world full of things that are always falling apart.

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