Monday, April 5, 2010

3:21 p.m.

With every tap of my black leather flats against the concrete floor, I savor the sound that reverberates from my toe, echoing to the wall and across unknown spaces.
I am enveloped in two grey boxes, that despite possessing six sides each, seem endless and infinite. It should be entirely unnatural, but instead the Pulitzer makes me feel closer to the elements. Inorganic concrete effortlessly adheres us to the wind and water and grass. It's as if the streak-free glass window doesn't really exist. It's so clean I forget about it, and when I lean my head against it I am surprised it is there to catch me.

We are not allowed to take photographs of the exhibit, so instead I circle and circle the work of Gordon Matta-Clark and attempt to commit the sliced-off sides and corners of houses to my memory. Where else could this exhibit have been shown? Although the bits of houses once rose elsewhere, they now cannot exist outside of this space. Like the wind and water and grass, I am connected to their decrepit exoskeletons. I enter a room and see the outside of part of a house. Red paint chips off the wood siding, and the windows are cut off at an abrupt place. I walk counterclockwise around the structure and see the boney insides -- tacky and cement, wood blocks and bolts. 45 more degrees counterclockwise and I am surprised to find the inside of a house. For a moment I forget what this piece really was: A place. It belonged to someone. It was someone's. A home. A fading coat of seafoam green paint is interrupted by pale wooden imprints of the stairs and the creamy white trim around the windows. Even out of context and history, it is inviting.

Rather than thinking critically about the works as art, Matta-Clark's anarchitecture stirs up wonder and imaginative, unpretentious experience. When I notice the three-inch thick stacks of roof shingles, the unbearable cold of a New Jersey winter without heat chills my insides. I think of little stories of the boys and girls who might have lived in one of these abandoned rooms. This exhibit is challenging. In the Pulitzer, I am more aware of the fleetingness of history, and I wonder what structures and places last forever. Only in retrospect do I realize how emotional something like that is to think about. In the Pulitzer, thinking this way is simply second-nature.

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