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A Study on Gordon Matta-Clark's 'Building-Cuts': Psychological and Sociological Significance of the Physical Holes

장다은 1

1홍익대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

Gordon Matta Clark(1943-1978) a leading artist in the Activism and Anti-architectural movement during the 1960s and 1970s in the United States. From 1971 to 1978 he made 'Building-Cuts', intentionally creating holes in architectures inYork and Europe. This study focuses on why and how he treats obsolete buildings to compelpeople to see cut and split houses. To answer these questions, I primarily analyze visual qualities of Building-cuts in retrospect to the art and architecture in Matta-Clark's time period. By looking at his work in this context, I could find that divisions and holes in ruined houses of that timeconstitute main characteristics of Building-cuts, and I intended to interpret them in the psychological and sociological field. The progressively extended structure, "the physical form includes psychological intention, effects and is finally understood sociologically according to artist's intention", provides us with the system to synthesize elements of Building-cuts partially mentioned by most critics and art historians. In Chapter I, in comparison to Minimalism, Earth Art, Installation Art in alternative spaces, I make clear that Matta-Clark's Building-cuts directly reconstruct the whole building differently from others' works only focusing on architectural scale and materials or just adding minor renovations to the building. This characteristicasks us to examine his works in terms of architecture field. He studied architecture in Cornell University for 5 years, and the architectural conventions he had learned at that time are inscribed in his Building-cuts. However, he un-builds rather than builds, resisting and destroying established architectures. This aspect is connected with the architectural ideas of his father, Roberto Matta who is a surrealism painter and architect. Matta-Clark always wanted people to walk inside and experience the cut buildings. The theme of bodily perception, which is to appreciate artworks while walking in the space where works are installed,originated from minimalism in the late 60's. In chapter II, comparing Matta-Clark's Building-cuts to minimalism in the subject of perception, I analyze the unique effects of perception and psychological elements which Matta-Clark intended. In contrast with unitary form in minimalism, Building-cuts makes divisions between the inside and outside of a building, pointing out that people get dispersed perceptions once inside the building. In the course of this appreciation, houses which feel cozy and familiar are experienced in an unfamiliar and fearful way. These kinds of feelings toward houses are linked to the Sigmund Freud's concept, 'Uncanny'. Several existing studies mention this perspective in Matta-Clark's works, but briefly. In this study, I tried to make a close inquiry into this perspective with Freud's original reference and Matta-Clark's personal history. Matta-Clark transforms ruined houses into uncanny views and says that we should see them. This strategy is connected to his criticism of society. He thought that there were more buildings in New York than were necessary, and old buildings were being removed for the construction of new buildings in pursuit of stimulating capitalism. In chapter III, I research Matta-Clark's attack on metropolitan capitalism with his Building-cuts and how psychological elements are developed into sociological connotations. To accomplish this, I first prepare a theological base through Walter Benjamin's theory and then verify the development carefully examining Matta-Clark's works. Matta-Clark wanted to raise the alternative idea or plan for architecture by comparing new and old buildings in the work of group, 'Anarchitecture' which he named and led. Making a psychical shock through juxtaposing old and new buildings and using that energy for social revolution was based on Benjamin's ideas. He hoped that people would awaken from the illusion of capitalism by being shocked from seeing the image composed of the montage of illusions of progression and ruin of the past. Matta-Clark was fascinated with Benjamin's revolutionary nihilism and juxtaposed the past and present through cutting buildings which made people notice ruins. Also he used psychical energy from this strategy for criticizing metropolitan capitalism. One of his late works in Paris, Conical Intersect (1976) demonstrates this process and the resulting effects well. With the closing interpretation of his Paris work in the end of this thesis, this study reveals the interpretation of Matta-Clark's Building-cuts with the progressive process that 'physical holes are developed out for the psycho-sociological meaning'. Namely, physical holes in Building-cuts are dispersively perceived making people feel uncanny, and finally reveal critical interpretation of circulating consumption of capitalism. The interpretation of this process helps synthesize elements which many critics have vaguely or sporadically indicated, making it a significant point of this thesis.

Citation status

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