Palazzo delle Papesse becomes SMS Contemporanea and opens Gordon Matta-Clark
Conical intersect, 1973
6 June - 19 October 2008
The Siena Contemporary Art Centre is delighted to announce the forthcoming retrospective on the works of Gordon Matta-Clark, curated by Lorenzo Fusi and Marco Pierini in collaboration with the Estate of the Artist. The show opens in a new venue for the Centre, shortly to be moved from the Palazzo delle Papesse to the museum hub of Santa Maria della Scala, the prestigious group of cultural institutions situated opposite the Sienese Cathedral. The exhibition is the first to be solely devoted to the 'anarchitect' Matta-Clark in Italy, and one of the most important ever realized in Europe. The aim of the show is to propose a reconstruction of the artist's varied and prolific career, ranging between the most diverse languages and forms of expression from the end of the Sixties until his premature demise in 1978. The itinerary, while following a chronological order, is mainly structured around themes and groups of works. It opens with Garbage Wall (1970), a wall built with found materials and garbage which the artist intended to become a building module of easy production and zero cost, offered as a response to the plight of the homeless vis-a-vis the failure of affordable housing policies in the urban-symbol of Western capitalism, that is to say New York City. Matta-Clark's first interventions took place in abandoned and derelict buildings that were later to be defined as 'non-sites. Matta-Clark's action marks the arrival of both conscience and environmental awareness in art. As an example, during a performance of Fresh Air Cart, in 1972, the artist offered free oxygen and rest to pedestrians and office workers worn out by suffocating routines and the congestion of traffic in the city. Matta-Clark's research, which intersects with Robert Smithson's ideas on Land Art, starts investigating entropic processes, mainly the changes in urban textures and the transformation of architecture in urban environments.
The idea of the endless transformation of nature is later juxtaposed to that of the artist as alchemist. Matta-Clark is interested in the evolution and transformation of matter from one stage to the next: how discarded bottles found on the street can be melted into glass bricks to be used as construction materials (Glass Brick, 1971), or how a vacant city pier can be transformed into a city park (Days End, 1975). In his pursuit of alternative economical housing in the early Seventies, trees became a source of inspiration for the artist. A few examples amongst the many are the 1971 performance Tree Dance (which sees a centuries-old tree 'colonised' by the artist and his friends) and the many drawings and sketches in which trees are folded, woven and composed in order to give life to living units, shelters and dwellings (Tree Forms, 1971). In 1973-1974, Matta-Clark began playing with the American myth that the U.S. has enough land for every citizen to become a property owner.
In Reality Properties: Fake Estates, thanks to the re-zoning (re-districting) cities are periodically forced into, the artist, who was living on next to nothing, was able to purchase fifteen 'estates' in Queens, NY for between $25 and $75 each. Several estates were perhaps a foot wide but several hundred feet long and some were completely landlocked. The more inaccessible the property was, the happier Matta-Clark was. Santa Maria della Scala will be proud to present these as part of the exhibition.
Special attention is also given to Matta-Clark's famous 'cuts', such as Sauna (1971), in which the artists literally strips his friends bare in a sauna, and to the carrots in Conical Intersect (realised for the 1975 Paris Biennial, during the building works for the forthcoming Centre Pompidou). Also on show will be many of the artist's most beautiful photographic documentations of his notorious building cuts from projects such as Splitting, Bingo, Conical Intersect, Office Baroque and Circus.
Finally, the exhibition also includes the almost complete filmography of the artist around which the exhibition itinerary was conceived, as a demonstration of the artist's versatile power of innovation of the media as well as the impact of his performances and public interventions.
The catalogue, edited by Silvana Editoriale in bilingual italian/english edition will contain critical essays by: James Attlee, Jane Crawford, Louise Désy and Gwendolyn Owens, Lorenzo Fusi, Marco Pierini, Judith Russi Kirscher.
SAVE THE DATE
OPENING: 6 June 2008, 6 pm
PRESS PREVIEW: 6 June 2008, noon