nRecently, for many museums, everything revolves around the question: How do we deal with archives? And how do you make an archive accessible in an exhibition? How this can be done can be seen until the end of March in the Salzburg Museum of Modern Art on Mönchsberg. In essence, it is a takeover of three exhibitions that the Montreal-based Canadian Center for Architecture (CCA) showed from June 2019.
Three curators – Yann Chateigné (Brussels), Hila Peleg (Berlin) and Kitty Scott (Ottawa) – have viewed and interpreted the estate of the architect and multimedia artist Gordon Matta-Clark, who was born in 1943 and died in 1978. For the Salzburg show, Jürgen Tabor invited the Viennese artist Hans Schabus to deal with the inventor of “De-Architecture”.
Social sculptures à la Beuys
Gordon Matta-Clark was the son of a Chilean father and an American mother, both visual artists. The marriage did not last long: the mother said goodbye after giving birth to Gordon and his twin brother John. Gordon studied architecture at Cornell University, went to the Sorbonne to study literature, came into contact with Derrida’s deconstructivism. He entered art history around 1971 when he and four friends opened a communal kitchen called Food on Prince Street in SoHo. In this social sculpture, people cook, discuss and dream together for three years and perform action art with soups. Matta-Clark starts filming his work early on. For him, film was not just a documentation, but also an artistic form of expression.
The fastest way in his universe succeeds with Hila Peleg’s selection from the film archive. There you can see, for example, the “Conical Intersect” (1975) in Paris, which a very cheerful Matta-Clark called “exactly what I always wanted” in an interview. In the 4th arrondissement, townhouses from the seventeenth century are being flattened so that entire quarters are being turned inside out, the Center Pompidou is currently being built in the immediate vicinity of the demolished buildings. The New York anarch is invited along with a handful of helpers to show his manual dismantling skills parallel to the monstrous demolition excavators. Matta-Clark tackles the gutted cases with muscle power, a hammer, crowbar and band saw.
More a mystic than a rationalist?
One sees a facade in which a hole suddenly opens, a fistle appears, a hand in a white leather glove waves, then the opening grows out into a conical cutout that reveals a view into the interior of the building, as if looking at a bloodstream . From a distance one can also think of the arched window of a cathedral. The Americans documenting themselves on sixteen-millimeter film in helmets, protective goggles and work coats themselves become the object of consideration. Passers-by stop and discuss the action, art students sit on the sidewalk and draw the scene.
Thorsten Sadowsky, director of the Museum der Moderne and artistic director of the Generali Foundation Collection, recalls a sentence by Sol LeWitt, who also describes Matta-Clark: “Conceptual artists are more mystics than rationalists.” Selection of the artist’s library in this direction: alchemy, psychoanalysis, myths, architectural theory, computers – and Milton’s “Paradise Lost”. The brittle ensemble is auratically nurtured by the pulley system that Matta-Clark uses for abseiling.