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Unbuilding Gender

Jack Halberstam examines the anarchitectural “practices of unmaking” as promulgated by American artist Gordon Matta-Clark. The ideas of unbuilding that characterize his work are extended in order to develop a queer concept of creative destruction focused on the trans*body.

Text: Jack Halberstam – 22.6.2020
Photo: Gordon Matta-Clark, Conical Intersect, Paris, 1975 (© 2020, ProLitteris, Zurich)


Trans* Anarchitectures in and Beyond the Work of Gordon Matta-Clark
The concept of “anarchitecture” is attributed mainly to Matta-Clark, whose inventive site-specific cuts into abandoned buildings demonstrated approaches to the concept of home and to the market system of real estate that were anarchistic, creatively destructive and full of queer promises. Though Halberstam does not suggest that Matta-Clark or any of the participants in the Anarchitecture group that he helped to found in downtown Manhattan in 1973 would have understood their work in this sense. But he dares to read Matta-Clark’s projects in order to spin contemporary conversations about queer and trans* politics away from notions of respectability and inclusion, and towards the anti-political project of unmaking a world that casts queers and trans* people (and homeless people and immigrants, among others) as problems for the neoliberal state. The author proposes that, just as the transgender body once represented a form of bodily abjection counterposed to gender normativity, now trans* bodies offer fleshly blueprints for the unbuilding of binary understandings. Read Jack Halberstams fulminant essay in architheses current Queer-issue.


> Ilka Brinkmann also wrote about the potential of Anarchitecture for art and architecture.

> Arno Brandelhuber spoke about the creative potential of ruins.

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archithese 2.2020


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archithese 4.2017