"By undoing a building there are many aspects of the social conditions against which I am gesturing: first, to open a state of enclosure which had been preconditioned not only by physical necessity but by the industry that profligates suburban and urban boxes as a context for insuring a passive, isolated consumer-a virtually captive audience. The fact that some of the buildings I have dealt with are in Black ghettos reinforces some of this thinking, although I would not make a total distinction between the imprisonment of the poor and the remarkably subtle self-containerization of higher socio-economic neighborhoods. The question is a reaction to an ever less viable state of privacy, private property, and isolation."
Gordon Matta Clark. Interview by Donald Wall for Arts Magazine. May 1976
As I have been observing before on boiteaoutils, a wall is at first nothing more than a line drawn on a piece of paper. This line then acquires a materiality and thus own a violence that prevents bodies a freedom of movement (the climax of this violence is obviously achieved in prisons where four walls surround the body). A wall here is not necessarily to be understood only as a vertical panel but also every kind of built surface that prevents the body from a freedom of movement (floors, walls, fences etc.) Any process of “unwallization” is therefore a resistance to this violence. It is difficult to find architecture that succeeds in applying these kinds of processes; nevertheless, several artists did work on that issue and produced various propositions in that regard. Gordon Matta Clark’s work is both the precursor and the quintessence of them, piercing, sawing, digging, rending, rotating, splitting, tearing apart, Matta Clark mistreats the wall as much as he can and the latter almost loses the totality of its violence in this way.
The wall is a separation device but not necessarily as a surface needing more energy to be penetrated than a human owns, can also be seen in the example of rows of sheets on clothes lines. The wall thus looses its violent status while conserving most of its other characteristics.
All the following pictures come from the book. Gordon Matta Clark. Phaidon 2003.
[Please note: I have two copies of Matta-Clark's books if anyone would like to look at them - Sally]