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Matta-Clark and New Orleans


There's a bit of back story to Matta-Clark and New Orleans. This has to do with Tina Girouard and Richard Landry who are both from New Orleans as is Keith Sonnier. They formed a Cajun contigent in the 112 Greene street scene.  Landry, a musician, played with Phillip Glass. Girouard, a dancer and mixed media artist, often collaborated with Gordon Matta-Clark. 


As I said in my earlier post, FEMA and the big money contractors have just been given a no-bid contract to to put up 300,000 temporary houses for Katrina victims. If Gordon Matta-Clark were alive today he would be trying to find a way to humanize the effort.  I'm wondering whether Tina Girouard is doing just that because she moved back to New Orleans in the 80's.  In any case Here's the quote from Fluor corporation who got the contract to built the temporary cities; "We are a lot of right-brained guys, nothing too artistic," said Don Stokley, a structural engineer from Fluor, who is managing the company's strike teams." From    pdf 

The U.S. governments idea of dealing with this crisis is to offer psychological counciling. You'd think that breathing life and art into these circumstances would also be a consideration. The Bush/Cheney CEO mentality is, "let's get the job done." Well, OK but artists and designers and bottom up iniatives would make the process human.

Gordon would have figured out a way to put the trailers in clusters to form smail neighborhoods. He would have allowed for a community in-between social space such as a small town square.  This is such an opportunity to explore alternative community building. One can only hope that the people moving into those areas will have a few visionary renegade of their own. Given the nature of New Orleans I think it's a sure bet. 

Looting is the keyword for today. It's the Bush/Cheny mantra as they give out the 85 Billion dollar no-bid contracts to their corporate buddies.  Here's another tidbit that caught my eye;"

Fatma Abu Reziq, whose large, poor Khan Yunis family was profiled in The New York Times in June, said she was one of the first Palestinians into Neve Dekalim, arriving at about 3 a.m., even before the last Israeli tank rumbled away. "People were afraid at first, and then they saw people like me get in, and they became brave," she said.

Even she, she said blushing, had salvaged a few items from this settlement to brighten her home, a few hundred yards across the no man's land from the towering cement wall that still cuts off Khan Yunis from Neve Dekalim. "Now that the Israelis are gone, our lives will be better and quieter," she said. "I can't describe my happiness to see the flag of Palestine flying here." From     pdf

Matta-Clark would have used this as a taking off point for an art work or a way to clarify the social dynamics at work at this time.

Indeed, part of my inspiration for doing the performance work, Rant/Rant Back/Back Rant comes from my early association with Gordon, the idea of finding the emotion beneath the headlines, the call to action, the position of the artist to focus and clarify the social matrix in my own work.