Film program

The camera was a constant element within Gordon Matta-Clark's artistic process. After starting out as an instrument for recording his performances, it very quickly became a tool for perceiving the architectural, urban and social space in which his interventions took place. From shots of his performance-actions to negative cut-outs and collages, the analysis of the thickness of the urban texture and the documentary gaze, which captures the spatial disorientation or altered perception provoked by the artist's "building cuts", the films and videos of Gordon Matta-Clark were always conceived as an artistic form that sought to explain theses performances, explorations and cuts into buildings, and remained as close as possible to sensitive experience. In the building cuts, the camera explores the basic elements of movement and weight, as well as their distribution in relation to the verticality of the buildings. It also captures the uncertainty arising from the mix of interior and exterior, the redistribution of the light, the distorted sense of direction – which flaunts the laws of gravity –, the measuring of time and the concentration of an immense energy (which Matta-Clark called "points of energy concentration in space"). By challenging all limits, the body of the artist in a pre-constructed environment disrupts the order of the world, offering a new vision of urban space.

Matta-Clark encompasses the ability to shape physicality, to observe while "receiving the world", together with the capacity to look with a gaze that projects into space, from the concave to the convex. His work is also able to pass from a vision linked to the individual's time and history, which includes interpretation and confrontation with the past, to a more "geographical" gaze that appears to receive the world just as it is. However, the history of our perception means that, over time, it becomes impossible for us to reinvent the objects in our world: our projection associates them in the same way over and over, because we always see through the filter of our own history. This is what we could call a neurosis of the gaze, in which our visual perception can no longer take a subjective stance in relation to the world.

The work of Matta-Clark sets a revolution in motion, allowing the gaze to fully share of the things in the world, without fixing them in concrete interpretations. By offering new "attractors", the artist doesn't seek to invent a new object, but rather to change social perception, overall perception. Those who want to be artists should use these "attractors", reject the possibility of remaining locked within the art object, and instead aim for a "deobjectivation" or "dereification" of the gaze that makes it possible to move towards a kind of inwards plunge that is in not a regression in any sense, but rather a way of reactivating the imaginary.[1]

This program offers a selection of films and videos by Robert Morris, VALIE EXPORT, Charles & Ray Eames, Mika Taanila, Deimantas Narkevicius, Anri Sala, Andrée Korpys/Markus Löffler, Pier Paolo Pasolini and Stéphane Pauvret/Bérangère Jannelle, all of which are connected to the idea of the objective and the subjective, to self-knowledge and the perception of and by others. They are also linked to the politics of bodies in a built (urban and economic) environment, to power structures and their representation through architecture, to control mechanisms, the perception of history modified by ideologies and utopias, the construction of sensible forms of collective life and "the creation of an appropriate way of cohabiting the sensible world".[2]

This program sets out to link film projects of the sixties with others from the last ten years, including experimental film projects and new narrative processes that surpass the boundaries between documentary and fiction.

Corinne Diserens

[1] See «Entretien avec Hubert Godard. Approche thérapeutique du corps. Maître de conférence à l'Université Paris VIII. Par Suely Rolnik» in Lygia Clark. De l'œuvre à l'événement. Nous sommes le moule. À vous de donner le souffle. Nantes: Musée des Beaux-Arts de Nantes, 2005.

[2] See the section on Anri Sala's video Dammi i colori, pp. 86-87, Jacques Rancière: Le spectateur émancipé. Paris: La fabrique éditions, 2008.

With the support of:


April 15 – June 3
Wednesdays at 7.30pm

April 15
Gordon Matta-Clark
Fire Child, 1971, 9 min 47 s
Fresh Kill, 1972, 12 min 56 s
Food, 1972, 43 min

Fire Child, produced for the exhibition Brooklyn Bridge Event, records the process of building a wall using rubbish, cans and waste paper collected from the area. Fresh Kill shows the process of destruction of Matta-Clark's truck (which he had named "Herman Meydag") by a bulldozer at a rubbish dump. It is part of 985, a compilation that also includes films by Ed Baynard, George Schneeman and Charles Simons, shown in documenta 5 in Kassel (Germany). Food documents the legendary restaurant and artists co-operative, which was a landmark in the history and mythology of Soho in the seventies. It was largely designed and built by Matta-Clark, who also organised art events and performances there.

April 22
Gordon Matta-Clark
Automation House, 1971, 1976, 32 min
Clockshower, 1971-1976, 13 min 5 s
City Slivers, 1971-1976, 15 min

Automation House is an exercise in spatial perception in which the artist uses mirror reflections of people and their movements. In Clockshower Matta-Clark climbed to the top of the Clocktower in New York, where he washed, shaved and brushed his teeth in front of the building's huge clock. City Slivers is a formal investigation of New York's urban architecture. Made to be projected on the exterior façade of a building, it was shown for the first time at the open air exhibition ARCADES and later in the Holly Solomon Gallery.

April 29
Robert Morris, Mirror, 1969, 8'
Trisha Brown, Man Walking Down the Side of a Building, 1970, 2'47
Trisha Brown, Leaning Duets, 1970, 2'
Trisha Brown, Walking on the Walls, 1971, 4'49
VALIE EXPORT, Adjungierte Dislokation, 1973, 10'
VALIE EXPORT, Syntagma, 1983, 18'
Jimmie Durham, The Man Who Had a Beautiful House, 1994, 7'27

In the mid-seventies North American artist Robert Morris began to take an interest in labyrinthine spaces. In Mirror, he moves through a landscape holding a large mirror, so that we can easily take the reflections to be nature itself. Since 1967, VALIE EXPORT has concentrated on what is known as "expanded cinema". Abstract film no.1 is an installation in which the presence of natural elements, such as water, light and reflections and the departure from technology creates to unexpected and yet fundamentally illuminating connections, with minimalist art, land art and arte povera. In Adjungierte Dislokation, the use of two cameras tied to the artist's body, and a third that documents the performance, triggers a direct, physical kind of cinema through the interaction between the material, performer and viewers. Syntagma concerns itself with the objective and the subjective, with self-awareness and the perception of and by others.

May 6
Gordon Matta-Clark
Splitting, 1974-1976, 10 min 50 s
Bingo/Nights, 1974-1976, 9 min 40 s
Substrait (Underground Dailies) , 1974-1976, 30 min
Day's End, 1975, 23 min 10 s

The films Spitting and Bingo/Ninths document the building cuts made by Matta-Clark in a house located in New Jersey and another at Niagara Falls (New York). In Substrait (Underground Dailies) Matta-Clark explores the underground spaces of New York City. In Day's End the artist works at an abandoned pier in New York over two months, where he cuts sections of the door, floor and roof.

May 13
Charles & Ray Eames, Powers of ten, 1977, 9 min
Mika Taanila, Futuro - a new stance for tomorrow, 1998, 29 min
Deimantas Narkevicius, Once in the XX Century, 2004, 8 min
Anri Sala, Dammi i colori, 2003, 16 min

Made in 1977, Powers of Ten consists of a single shot that begins with an aerial view of a man in a Chicago park, expands out to the limits of the universe, and then reverses back and ends up taking us into the microscopic world of his hand. Future, by Mika Taanila, tells the story of the house designed by Matti Suuronen, a forgotten landmark in Finnish architecture that reflects 1960s utopian architecture. It also expresses the filmmaker's interest in subjects like mobility, leisure time and new materials. In Once in the XX Century, Deimantas Narkevicius uses video footage from the Lithuanian national television archives that document the demolition of a sculpture of Lenin, but reverse the order of the sequences. The result is an ironic discourse on the recurrence of ideological expressions in different political eras, and on the resulting iconoclasm as a radical means of historical correction. In Dammi i colori, Anri Sala documents the post-utopian project of Edi Rama, artist and mayor of Tirana, who decreed that the monotonous and run-down buildings in the Albanian city be painted in bright colours. The mayor talks to about colour's power to move a community forward, and to make Europe's poorest capital the only one in which everyone talks about art on the streets and in the coffee shops. But long travelling shots and close ups put paid to the exemplary nature of the aesthetic city and clearly show other views in conflict with the speaker's claims.

May 20
Gordon Matta-Clark
The Wall, 1976-2007, 15 min 34 s
Conical Intersect, 1974-2005, 18 min 40 s
Sous-sols de Paris (Paris Underground), 1974-2005, 25 min 20 s

The Wall begins with the following statement: "In 1976, as part of the exhibition Soho in Berlin, Gordon Matta-Clark went to Germany with the intention of blowing up a section of the Berlin Wall. Dissuaded by friends from such a suicidal action, the result was the following performance". A rare document of one of the artist's lesser-known performances, which constitutes a historical portrait of a political and physical landscape that no longer exists. Conical Intersect was a spiralling cone-shaped cut through a pair of 17th century buildings on rue Beaubourg slated for demolition as part of the "urban renewal" of the Les Halles district, where the Pompidou Centre was to be built. Photographer and filmmaker Marc Petitjean filmed the process of cutting the cone shaped hole in the buildings, over a two-week period. In Sous-sols de Paris Matta-Clark explores underground Paris, showing scenes of architectural ruins, car parks, tunnels, ossuaries, cellars, crypts and basements of the Opera district.

May 27
Korpys/Löffler, Nuclear Football, 2004, 30 min 30 s
Korpys/Löffler, Villa Feltrinelli, 2008, 15 min
Pier Paolo Pasolini, Salo or the 120 Days of Sodom, 1975, 117 min

From the early nineties, Andrée Kropys (Bremen, 1966) and Markus Löffler (Bremen, 1963), have been addressing the question of how reality is constructed and how it is staged in the media. Their works focus on the locations and the structures of power, and on the representation of that power in the form of architecture, hierarchies, control mechanisms or the use of force. Korpys and Löffler obtained a press pass to film the visit of the president of the United States, George W. Bush, to Berlin in May 2002. The result was Nuclear Football, a document that focuses exclusively on the formal protocol and banal aspects of that visit. Villa Feltrinelli, commissioned for Manifesta 7, is based on this villa, which served as headquarters for the German-controlled Italian Social Republic between 1943 and 1945. After the Feltrinelli family regained possession in 1946, Giangiacomo Feltrinelli used it as a communist camp and hideout, becoming increasingly involved in the militant underground until his mysterious death in 1972. In Pier Paolo Pasolini's last film, Salo or the 120 Days of Sodom (1975), four libertines use the villa as the site for their orgiastic pact, each marrying one of the others' daughters. In an unsettling coincidence, all three Italian notables were bodily disfigured in death: Mussolini in the Piazzele Loreto in Milan, Feltrinelli by the power lines in Segrate and Pasolini in the Idroscalo in Ostia. Today, the villa where all three spent time near the ends of their lives is a five-star hotel, offering "the highest possible service for the discerning traveller in search of beauty, graciousness and peace".

June 3
Stéphane Pauvret, Bérangère Jannelle, Sans terre (Landless), 2007, 80 min

Sans terre is a theatre piece based on the story of Douglas, a young Brazilian militant in the landless farmers' movement. The point of departure is Pylades, which reflects the situation of a group of landless Brazilians who organise theatre in a community. Like Pasolini in Appunti per un'Orestiade africana, the filmmakers ask who is the Orestes of this town, this city, who is the Pylades of the settlement, and who is Athena, the goddess of democracy.

Program by Corinne Diserens
The films of Gordon Matta-Clark are part of the MACBA Collection

Screenings in Original Version and Original Version with Subtitles

Program subject to last-minute changes.

MACBA Public Programs
Tel. (+34) 93 481 79 00
mrubio [at] macba [dot] cat