Bronx Floors, 1972-3 Manhattan, Bronx, and Brooklyn, New York
Seeing layer upon layer of linoleum, seeing a whole history, was like a hand of cards slowly revealing themselves. He made the fragility of our lives very poignant. Each layer of a fragment was so much larger than reality and so much less significant than if you were washing the floor, actually living in the room. The piece was very humanistic in its ability to direct our attention, as people, to the structures, buildings we inhabit in our everyday life. His everyday floor became an extraordinary artifact.
interview with Joan Simon, printed in Mary Jane Jacobs, Gordon Matta- Clark: A Retrospective, exhib. cat., Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago 1985
Matta-Clark developed his technique of cutting by using abandoned buildings that he found by scouting around New York; the first cuts to take place outside of his own living space. Plentiful and deserted, these buildings offered Matta-Clark his only real opportunity for experimentation, in the face of being caught without permission from owners, and the danger created in the structures by the cuts themselves.
Matta-Clark wanted to open up spaces, making them accessible by creating views and passageways that had not existed before. The sense of openness was further magnified by the light that penetrated the architecture, transforming it into sculpture. Creating keyhole views between spaces, Matta-Clark cut away that which had maintained an insistent privacy. The extractions made were erasures of what had existed, but were also liberations of alternative views and new points of perception. These fragments had innumerable associations triggered by their materials, preserving not a personal past but conserving a more generalized history of the urban culture from which they were derived.