Revisiting Gordon Matta-Clark's Fake Estates

In the early 1970s, artist Gordon Matta-Clark purchased small slivers of land--the product of surveying anomalies--in Queens and Staten Island. These slivers of land, too small to build anything on and often inaccessible by public access, were documented by Matta-Clark through a variety of official document, maps, and other visual aids. This project explores the theoretical concepts underlying this land epistemology and its expression though Matta-Clark's work, tying it to the larger land art movement of the 1960s and 70s.

 Reality Properties: Fake Estates, Little Alley Block 2497, Lot 42. Courtesy of the  Guggenheim Museum, NYC .

Reality Properties: Fake Estates, Little Alley Block 2497, Lot 42. Courtesy of the Guggenheim Museum, NYC.

Vacilando in Los Angeles

Vacilar is a Spanish verb, the connotation and performance of which are best described by John Steinbeck in his 1962 Travels with Charley.

"In Spanish there is a word for which I can't find a counterword in English.  It is the verb vacilar, present participle vacilando.  It does not mean vacillating at all.  If one is vacilando, he is going somewhere but doesn't greatly care whether or not he gets there, although he has direction.  My friend Jack Wagner has often, in Mexico, assumed this state of being.  Let us say we wanted to walk in the streets of Mexico City but not at random.  We would choose some article almost certain not to exist there and then diligently try to find it" (Steinbeck 1962, p. 57).

To vacilar, or to assume a state of vacilando, is thusly to wander and to wonder while walking through a landscape.  In his treatise on walking as a particular way of knowing, anthropologist Tim Ingold (2010) makes an observation similar to Steinbeck's.  He differentiates between "wayfaring" and "transport," the former an embodied method of "seeking a way through," and the latter an attempt to reach a specific destination.  Learning, for Ingold, happens through the act of moving along and sensing the ground.

This project is a series of vacilandos carried out by studio affiliates Nicholas Bauch and Rick Miller, who use Los Angeles as a way to conduct research on land use, urban form, and representation.