In Focus

Walls Paper 1972 by Gordon Matta-Clark

First displayed in a partially dilapidated artist-run space in New York, Walls Paper’s photo-silkscreens of cracking, crumbling urban walls mirrored the site’s own deterioration. This In Focus positions the installation as a multi-dimensional collage that addresses the meaning of ownership, development and decay in the modern city.

Gordon Matta-Clark’s Walls Paper is composed of silkscreened images printed in pairs of colours on newsprint, derived from the artist’s photographs of the interior walls of derelict New York buildings. The work has taken multiple forms: the images have been used to cover walls, bundled and left on the ground for visitors to take and published as a photobook. Walls Paper reflects Matta-Clark’s interest in urban infrastructure and its failings, investing architectural photography with a level of subjectivity unusual for its time.

This In Focus contextualises Walls Paper’s display, reception and role within the 1970s New York art scene. Analysing the work through Matta-Clark’s engagement with urban decay and redevelopment, it shows how Walls Paper ties together Matta-Clark’s insistence on social engagement, his unconventional use of photography, his concept of the ‘non-u-ment’ and his interest in the intersection between architecture, memory and experience.

Published in August 2017, the project is authored by Sandra Zalman (University of Houston) and includes a conversation with Philip Ursprung (ETH Zürich).#

This In Focus project was made possible through support from the Terra Foundation for American Art.

ISBN 978-1-84976-556-5