Entangled Durations: Gordon Matta-Clark’s Bingo

Thumbnail Image
Issue Date
Feim, Alexandra
Gordon Matta-Clark , Conceptual Art , Post-Minimalism , Architecture
In 1974, Gordon Matta-Clark received permission from the Niagara Falls Housing Commission to remove sections of the façade of a house located at 349 Erie Avenue in Niagara Falls, New York that was scheduled for demolition. Matta-Clark divided the façade of the house into nine equal sections measuring five feet by nine feet. Over the course of ten days with a group of workers, he worked to remove the sections before the scheduled demolition. He removed eight sections and left one attached to the house; of the eight removed sections, he kept three, which are now owned by the Museum of Modern Art, and deposited five into Artpark to be reclaimed over time by the Niagara River Gorge. The demolition crew arrived while he was still working on removing the segments, and the house was demolished shortly after he completed the removal. Matta-Clark named the work “Bingo,” after “the typical American church function he felt was common in Niagara Falls.” In addition to the removed building segments, Matta-Clark made a nine-minute film and took many photographs documenting the removal process. Together, the removed segments, film, and photographs constitute Bingo, and each offers a different version of durational nature of the work. Although Matta-Clark has been the subject of much recent art historical scholarship, no account has focused extensively on Bingo. In this paper, I explore the unusual aspects of Matta-Clark’s 1974 project Bingo, paying particular attention to its context as a work in the inaugural year of Artpark, and I argue that each of its mediums tells a separate, specifically durational tale. As duration is my key concern, I also examine Bingo’s durations vis-à-vis the durational natures of architecture and Minimalism.