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On View

Floor 3

Susan and John Hess Family Theater (as part of the screening series, see Program)


Gordon Matta-Clark (1943-1978)






Super 8mm film, black-and-white and color, silent, 10:50 min., transferred to video

Credit line

Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Purchase, with funds from the Film and Video Committee

Accession number


Object Label

In 1971, Gordon Matta-Clark began a series of what he called “cuttings,” in which he opened up buildings by slicing shapes into their walls and floors, creating new vistas and passages and revealing hidden spaces. These cuttings merged the traditional formal language of sculpture (line, volume, light, surface) with contemporary issues—urban decay and the breakdown of established social and architectural structures. Splitting is a film that documents an architectural-sculptural performance. From March to June 1974, Matta-Clark used a chain saw to bisect a New Jersey house scheduled for demolition. He chiseled at its foundations and transformed it into a temporary sculptural environment. The rear section of the house was set on a lowered foundation, creating a wedge of space between the two halves that exposed a series of sliced rooms and introduced light and air into cramped spaces. This splitting implied both a rupturing of the fabric of domestic space and a liberation of the individual from suburban isolation. Like the accompanying series of photographs, sketches, and an artist’s book, Matta-Clark’s film operates as both a document of the performative event and a parallel work.

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