Clockshower, 1973

Betacam SP, PAL, couleur, silencieux

A man dressed in black with a rain hat climbs up an enormous acanthus leaf. Once he has traversed the frame from bottom to top, the camera lifts and we see that the leaf is part of the decoration of an immense clock. Balancing in front of the clock’s hands, we recognise Matta-Clark under the hat, who is about to take a shower as he installs a pipe on one of the hands. Reproducing a famous scene from Harold Lloyd in the film Safety Last (1923), he performs his full toilette – shaving, brushing his teeth and finally, stretching a hammock between the two hands, covering himself in shaving foam and taking a nap. As though this were business as usual, he washes himself under his makeshift shower, turns back time by turning the clock hands, then the shot widens until we can see the entire, immense edifice on which this comedy is taking place, so that we can see the artist suspended very high in the New York sky, probably close to the fiftieth floor. Ironically, the intimacy of this toilette is respected, even if it takes place out of doors, as it cannot be perceived from the street. By improvising a bathroom at the top of a public building, Gordon Matta-Clark continues his work on the decompartmentalisation of spaces, while acting out a number worthy of a stunt artist.

Patricia Maincent
Translated by Anna Knight