Bingo Press Release

Dates

April 10—May 8, 2004

The gallery will open on April 10th with an exhibition entitled Bingo by Gordon Matta-Clark (1943-1978). This will be the third exhibition of the artist's work at David Zwirner, the primary representative of the estate since 1998. On view will be work relating to the artist's 1974 project: three building fragments from the original house cutting; photographic works; and a film entitled Bingo X Ninths, which documents the progression of the project. Bingo is one of Matta-Clark's few surviving sculptural cuts existing today; most of his projects were demolished with the rest of the buildings.

Bingo began with a telephone call to the Niagara Falls Planning Commission in August 1974, allowing the artist to use a typical two-story, red-shingled house at 349 Erie Avenue, Niagara Falls, New York. Under contract with the city, the artist had 10 days to complete the project before the scheduled demolition of the structure. Matta-Clark chose to divide one side of the house into nine equal five-foot by nine-foot sections. Eight segments were removed from the structure one-by-one, leaving the center of the nine-part grid intact. These segments were taken to Artpark, seven miles away in Lewiston, New York, as part of a program of the Natural Heritage Trust. Originally named "Been-Gone by Ninth," Matta-Clark titled the project Bingo in reference to the typical American church function he felt was common in Niagara Falls. He echoed the gridded game card by removing panels from the grid he cut into the house.

In the artist's own words: "During the allotted working period the pace was a succession of twelve-hour days, nonstop and at times involving as many as five other workers. The measuring, cutting, and removing of the wall sections was continued right up to the hour the demolition crew arrived to tear down the house. In keeping with a history of construction debris on the Artpark site, five of the eight crates were judiciously dumped, and with the forces of natural reclamation, these building parts became eternally mysterious remnants of an elaborate celebration of abandonment." 

The three remaining segments, shown here in the gallery's main space, are not from a single horizontal or vertical row; they were originally displayed sequentially in 1974 at John Gibson, New York, with another project "Splitting". More recently the Tate Modern, London, exhibited Bingo as part of the 2001 exhibition "Century City: Art and Culture in the Modern Metropolis", and the Museum fur Gegenwartskunst Siegen, Germany, had the work on long-term loan since 2001.

Considered to be one of the most important conceptual artists working in the 1970s, Matta-Clark was a key figure in much of the activity and growth of the New York SoHo art world from the late 1960s until his death in August 1978. From the beginning, Matta-Clark's artistic methods explored and fused different media: architecture; performance; sculpture; drawing; photography; and film. In both his art and his attitude, he sought a more open society, and proposed a new way of seeing his surrounding environment. Works such as Bingo focused on the commonplace and society's "throw-aways": the city's many abandoned buildings. In cutting through both walls and traditional art rules, he transformed examples of urban blight into works of art. His influence remains even stronger today, his work becoming a reference point as relevant for today's artists as for his own peers of the 1970s.

Artist Biography