A Response to Gordon Matta Clark’s
Reality Properties, Fake Estates
Commissioned by Cabinet Magazine
Catalogue by D.A.P.
In 1942, A New Hampshire tree surgeon named Earl Tupper invented a new type of container. Made of polyethylene, his food-storage container featured an airtight, reusable seal. He named his new product “Tupperware” and received a patent on it. Tupperware was colorful, lightweight, unbreakable, and kept foods – especially leftovers – exceptionally fresh. Tupper began to market his invention in 1945, the year in which Gordon Matta-Clark was born.
I created a proposal which uses Tupperware to contain and preserve the plots of land purchased by Matta-Clark for several reasons. First off, the idea of “leftover” plots going into Tupperware (and into the fridge) seemed natural to me. Secondly, that the nascence of this product, known for its innovative, word-of-mouth marketing success, was simultaneous with the birth of Matta-Clark himself, intrigued me. As much as Matta-Clark (and his work) stood for presenting that which is raw, cut, re-examined, exhumed, reinterred and not clean, not slick, not perfect, not economical (effort-wise), so too did Tupperware stand for some kind of clean and perfect future – a future with no waste and no mess. So in some way, I think these entities – Matta-Clark and Tupperware – may be seen as countervalent forces in the overlap between distinct eras in our culture. The former: an era of thrift and custom-solutions to situations such as food-storage and freshness. The latter: well, in some sense we are living it: Strip malls, homogenization, containment and gloss. Matta-Clark sought to bring the inside out, and the outside in. He was a powerful advocate for the customized, and the freely-exchanged. Tupperware, to me, stands less for cute and color-coordinated and more for a world in which solutions are mass-produced – namely, a world that keeps the outside outside, and the “freshness in”.
I realized this project in order to highlight both Matta-Clark’s project of preservation (Reality Properties, Fake Estates did seek to “preserve” the plots, whether or not he ever completed the work. I think he saw the deeds as representative slivers of the land, and enjoyed the modern conundrum that this piece of paper could equal this stretch of soil…) and also to continue the train of thought which has land-ownership as synonymous with development – in some ways the opposite of preservation. So I hope that these containers can do both: preserve the land (and their “historic” value), and simultaneously “develop” (envelop) the land – both above and below the soil.
I was asked to participate in an exhibition called Intersection, which was organized to highlight the history of Woodward Avenue in Detroit. Woodward Avenue is the main surface street artery in Detroit, and joins the downtown with Bloomfield Hills, a tony neighborhood Northwest of the struggling city. My response, documented here, was to photograph Woodward Avenue in the reflection of a ‘coin’ silver spoon, given to me by my mother. Afterwards, I flattened the spoon in a roller mill, and fabricated a whistle. I returned to Woodward Avenue and blew the whistle once before retiring it.