Day's End

Gordon Matta-Clark

New York, USA, 1943 - 1978
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  • Media description: 
    Super 8 film transferred to video
  • Duration: 
    23 min. 10 sec.
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The deindustrialisation of New York City during the post-war period peaked in the early seventies and Gordon Matta-Clark was one of the people primarily responsible for the physical and social transformation of these disused industrial areas. The historic waterfront area, derelict and empty, was a centre of experimentation for many artists. This film documents the progress of one Matta-Clark's most ambitious and controversial deconstruction projects, one for which he was threatened with lawsuits over several months. As in the past, he sought to recover a lost and abandoned part of the city for public enjoyment and collective creation.
To this end the artist chose a building located on Pier 52, a relic of the 19th century industrial past, on which he made a series of cuts, sometimes under dangerous conditions. The reason for these complicated manoeuvres and contortions in the air can be understood as an absurd, humorous gesture, a sort of tribute to the stars of silent films like Harold Lloyd, while also showing his interest for dance and performance. In this monumental industrial building made of steel and corrugated metal with an interior reminiscent of a Christian basilica, Matta-Clark created shaped apertures by removing several sections of the roof and walls – a sail on the wall facing the river, a rose window on the western wall, a quarter circle on the south-east floor – which created a sequence of changing light patterns and reflections on the surface of the Hudson River. Although this was one of Matta-Clark's longest-surviving interventions (two years), he failed to convert it into the cultural catalyst he intended and the building was closed by the police on the day of its inauguration and stood abandoned until its demolition.

Lola Hinojosa