Have art historians written so little about Matta-Clark's work because of its ephemerality, or, as Pamela M. Lee argues, because of its historiographic, political, and social dimensions? What did the activity of carving up a building-in anticipation of its destructionâsuggest about the conditions of art making, architecture, and urbanism in the 1970s? What was one to make of the paradox attendant on its makingâthat the production of the object was contingent upon its ruination? How do these projects address the very writing of history, a history that imagines itself building toward an ideal work in the service of progress?
In this first critical account of Matta-Clark's work, Lee considers it in the context of the art of the 1970sâparticularly site-specific, conceptual, and minimalist practicesâand its confrontation with issues of community, property, the alienation of urban space, the "right to the city," and the ideologies of progress that have defined modern building programs.