10 January 2010

(re)Presenting G. Matta-Clark

The current exhibition of Matta-Clark’s work at The Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts has been very thoughtfully and carefully designed and presented.  A critical part of this effort involves the printed and on-line graphics.  Subtly, yet powerfully, the typographic composition and brochure layout reflect many of the concerns and methods employed by the artist.

The freely distributed brochure immediately presents the recipient with hints of the kinds of procedures and experiences that are central to Matta-Clark’s practice.  The splitting of the all cap text using a modern, simple non-serif font puts his work into a formal context immediately, that is, disruption and alteration of standardized modernist design practice.

The inversion of 'Urban Alchemy' from 'Gordon Matta-Clark' creates a sense of uncertainty and imbalance.  There is already a degree of unclear sense of proper orientation to the earth and gravity.  The slippage of the dark bar of the 'H' in alchemy into the vertical of the 'K' in Matta-Clark suggests the kinds of geometrical slicing and interchange you are about to experience.

The inversion of 'Upper' from 'Level' adds a new dimension to the graphic play placing the two sections of upper case text inline, but inverted from one another.

If you look carefully, you’ll notice that the cut letters are not consistently altered throughout the headline and caption text.  Sometimes E’s are sliced and other times remain whole.  Taking these modifications down to the level of the bold titles for the captions reveals the extent of the thought and care of this method.  It’s not simply deployed willy-nilly.  Rather, the geometry of the project often informs the typographic slices.

Good examples of this correspondence between almost unnoticeable alterations to the captions are:
Day’s End: the slice through the letter ‘y’ relates to the diagonal cutting Matta-Clark inflicted on the end wall.

Pier In/Out: an almost unnoticeable cut in the capital letter ‘P’ reflects the small section taken from a much larger structure.  The caption for the image depicting the building from which the section was extracted remains uncut.

Conical Intersect: The slice through the capital letter ‘C’ suggests the creation of a hole through the center of a curved surface which reflects the geometrical relationship of the building fabric and the conical void cut into it.

Appropriately, the “Other Works on View” follow the graphic color scheme and fonts used in the rest of the Matta-Clark brochure, but without inversions or cuts in the typography.

The folded structure of the brochure in half creating a stiff handout that opens with a central split.  As the reader further opens the piece, the overall structure becomes more flexible and malleable.  To use it while perusing the gallery the visitor is subconsciously folding and refolding the panels to offer the proper panel in relation to the architectural space in which they’re located.

The idea of the parallel presentation of comments from the artist / anarchitect Matta-Clark with a quotation from the building’s architect Tadao Ando reveals a fascination with creating particular sorts of openings in buildings, but the concept doesn’t appear to inform the gallery presentation in an clear and deliberate manner that is immediately obvious to the exhibition viewer (or the brochure reader).

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