Light Industry: Gordon Matta-Clark's Day's End + Arch Brown's Pier Groups
Friday, August 20, 2010, 19:30h, 7$
177 Livingston Street, Brooklyn, NY, USA
Introduced by Douglas Crimp
- Day's End (Gordon Matta-Clark, 16mm, 1975, 23 mins)
- Pier Groups (Arch Brown, 1979, 57 mins)
"Driving down the pier along that empty highway in front, the façades are an incredible, animated grouping of different eras and different personalities. And I wanted to deal with one of the earlier ones, which this [Pier 52] is—a turn of the century façade. There’s a classic sort of tin classicism. And to cut at the façade. So the ones that I found originally were all completely overrun by the gays...." - Gordon Matta-Clark on Day’s End
"Who’s the guy in the helmet?
I don’t know, never seen him before.
He looks straight. What’s he doing?
I don’t know, just checking the place out, I guess.
I’d like to check him out. He’s hot." - Dialogue from Pier Groups
In 1975 Gordon Matta-Clark created a monument—or an anti-monument—to New York’s industrial history with Day’s End, his transformation of the dilapidated Pier 52, which stood at the end of Gansevoort Street. He cut a channel in the pier’s floor and another in the roof above, so that when the sun reached its high point at noon, it shown down into the water. And he cut cat’s-eye-shaped holes in the tin walls, one at the side of the channel, another at the pier’s west end so that the sun came streaming in as it set over New Jersey. He called the work an “indoor water park,” where he hoped the “peaceful enclosure” would “create a joyous situation.” His film made with Besty Susler is one of the few records we have of both this great work and of the abandoned Hudson River piers before they were torn down—but not the only one. In 1979, Arch Brown released a gay porn film called Pier Groups. In it, two neighbors head for the piers, one for some fun on a day off, the other because he has an assignment to prepare for his demolition company to put in a bid for the piers’ destruction—“No one uses them,” says his boss. The engineer, played by Johnny Kovacs, wanders through the piers checking out their architecture and again and again happens upon guys—including his neighbor, played by Keith Anthoni—getting it on. He stops, watches, moves on, checks out another part of building, stumbles upon more sex play. Straight-acting, wearing his hard hat, he might be the hottest guy in the film… - Douglas Crimp
Douglas Crimp is Fanny Knapp Allen Professor of Art History at the University of Rochester. He was an editor at October (1977–1990) and is the author of Melancholia and Moralism: Essays on AIDS and Queer Politics (MIT Press, 2002), On the Museum’s Ruins (MIT Press, 1993), and AIDS Demo Graphics (Bay Press, 1990).