The Art & Charlie Blog

Contemporary art - what makes it special?

Contemporary art - what makes it special?

We are starting an ongoing series of deep analysis into iconic contemporary works to take you on a journey in discovering what makes it so special. With each post we hope to bring the wonder of this world to you in a way that helps you understand why a 5-year old could not have thought of it ;) We have been there ourselves till someone opened up this world for us and made us fall in love!

In focus today is an unconventional and anarchic piece of experiential art called 'Splitting' (1974) by American artist Gorgon Matta Clark created. His love for abandoned spaces and concern for the failing urban renewal housing schemes around the country is what gave rise to this project.

#WhatMakesItSpecial – Gordon Matta Clark got the opportunity to use a two-storey house in Englewood, New Jersey as his site, owned by New York art dealer Holly Solomon and set for demolition. With a chainsaw and some help from his friends, he bisected the house with two parallel cuts, bringing the cinderblocks down which lowered one part of the house. This defiance of gravity was put on tape and a 10-minute-long silent film was made from it.

Before the start of his project, people in Englewood were ripped from their homes because of the promise of modernisation, and the entire neighbourhood was in crisis. This phenomenon of de-homing of entire communities was occurring throughout the country and not a local issue. His art reflected architecture as a symbol of social structure where he criticised the American way of progression.

The house was cracked open and made a V structure, creating a path of light through the incision made. This sundial phenomenon was photographed by Clark and the original photographic evidence of this anarchistic structure can be found in San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. The artist also invited limited people to see the building in person, which turned this experience into a tour as people boarded a bus from Manhattan to New Jersey. This ‘tour’ was also recorded on a 16mm film and is restored by Smithsonian Archives of American Art.

Three months after the piece was created, the building was demolished by the authorities.



Send us a heart in comments below if you see its wonder.


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