Office Baroque, 1977 1 Ernest van Dijckkaai, Antwerp, Belgium
I felt Office Baroque became the most beautiful fugue of light, air, weather, and sculpture. There was also an element of excitement in climbing through one of Gordon’s works. Unexpected vistas opened, giving the viewer a sense of danger because of one’s own perilous position, as well as exposing the “bones” of the architecture. I particularly liked the chance performances caught in an open sliver: people caught passing by on the street or other art adventurers wandering through the work – watching and being watched.
Interviews with Joan Simon, printed in Mary Jane Jacobs, Gordon Matta- Clark: A Retrospective, exhib. cat., Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago 1985
Accidentally suggested by rings left by a cup of tea on one of Matta-Clark’s sketches, the final schematic plan (the original idea had been to remove a spherical quadrant nearly the full height of the building, from one of the corners) consisted of two semi- circular shapes, one slightly larger in diameter than the other, which overlapped. The intersection of the two resulted in a row-boat shape.
These shapes translated into the building, became the constant motif on each floor, Matta-Clark using them almost as a fixed set of elements within a musical score, played through the different layers of the building. As the cutting progressed from the large open office spaces on the lower levels to the smaller interconnecting rooms above, the resultant shapes were transformed from uninterrupted circular slices to smaller curved sections that stopped and started as they met partitions in walls. The boat shape also underwent change as it met structural beams and the amount of floor space was altered.
Matta-Clark described the experience as a ‘walk through panoramic arabesque.’ Interview with Matta-Clark in Matta- Clark, (exhib. cat.), International Cultureel Centrum, Antwerp, September 1977 Its baroque form was expressed in the title which also paid homage to Rubens, upon whose 400th birthday this project was executed.