Gordon Matta-Clark & Pope.L: Impossible Failures

Curator’s note by Ebony L. Haynes. Conversation between Pope.L, Hamza Walker, and Ebony L. Haynes. Texts by Gordon Matta-Clark

A joining of two artists, exploring their shared fixation on the problematics of architecture, language, institutions, scale, and value

“[The exhibition is] powerful and unhinged and overbuilt—a monument to the entropy of the postindustrial city, and the tenuous dance of its inhabitants.” —The New York Times

Gordon Matta-Clark and Pope.L are esteemed for their respective interdisciplinary practices that examine the value and paradoxes of urban life as well as the risk inherent in art making. Utilizing performance, film, drawing, and various multimedia projects, the two artists often open up interstitial spaces by realizing sweeping gestures that take into account shifting, decentralized zones. Grounded in the concept of failure, the sixth exhibition at 52 Walker and its accompanying catalogue reconsider societal, artistic, and structural failure—and its related expressions of hope. 

With an introduction by the curator and director of 52 Walker, Ebony L. Haynes, this publication also includes a conversation between Haynes, Pope.L, and the director of LAXART, Hamza Walker, where they discuss the visual, material, and conceptual similarities between Pope.L’s and Matta-Clark’s work and what it means to treat the possibilities of failure as an artistic medium. Writings by Matta-Clark related to works in the exhibition highlight his interest in working with the void as material.


Publisher: David Zwirner Books/52 Walker

Artists: Gordon Matta-Clark

Contributors: Clarion, Ebony L. Haynes, PopeL, Hamza Walker

Designer: Andrea Hyde

Printer: VeronaLibri, Verona

Publication Date: 2024

Binding: Hardcover

Dimensions: 6.5 × 9.25 in | 16.5 × 23.2 cm

Pages: 104

Reproductions: 59 illustrations

ISBN: 9781644231258

Retail: $35 | $47 CAN | £25

Status: Not Yet Published

Gordon Matta-Clark

Born in New York in 1943, Gordon Matta-Clark is widely considered one of the most influential artists working in the 1970s. He was a key contributor to the activity and growth of the New York art world in SoHo from the late 1960s until his untimely death in 1978. His practice introduced new and radical modes of physically exploring and subverting urban architecture, and some of his most well-known projects involved laboriously cutting holes into floors of abandoned buildings or, as with Splitting (1974), slicing a suburban villa in two.

All Gordon Matta-Clark books


The Clarion series of illustrated publications is positioned as an extension of each exhibition at the groundbreaking gallery space 52 Walker, curated by Ebony L. Haynes. The program focuses on showcasing conceptual and research-based artists from a range of backgrounds and at various stages in their careers. The series title is derived from the Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers’ Workshop, the oldest of its kind, at the University of California, San Diego. Octavia Butler attended this workshop in the 1970s. Butler’s writing has been influential in the conceptual framework of the program and the Clarion series. With a sleek design influenced by encyclopedias, each publication features color reproductions of the works on view, alongside an introduction by Haynes, commissioned essays, artist texts, archival materials, and more.

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Ebony L. Haynes

Ebony L. Haynes is a writer and curator from Toronto. She is based in New York, where she is a director at David Zwirner. Haynes is a visiting curator and critic at the Yale School of Art in the painting and printmaking class of 2021. She also runs an online “school” that offers free professional practice classes to Black students worldwide. 


Pope.L (b. 1955) was born in Newark, New Jersey, and resides and works in Chicago. He received his BA from Montclair State College, New Jersey, in 1978, and also attended the prestigious Whitney Museum Independent Study Program, New York, from 1977 to 1978. In 1981 the artist received his MFA from the Mason Gross School at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey, and later participated in the Mabou Mines Re.Cher.Chez Theater Intensive from 1983 to 1985 in New York. The artist has been distinguished by a multitude of grants and awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship (2004), the United States Artists Rockefeller Fellowship (2006), and the Bucksbaum Award (2017).

Hamza Walker

Hamza Walker is director of LAXART, an independent nonprofit art space in Los Angeles. From 1994 to 2016, he was a curator and the director of education at the Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago. He has contributed to Parkett, Artforum, and numerous catalogues. He is the recipient of the 1999 Norton Curatorial Grant and the 2004 Walter Hopps Award for Curatorial Achievement. In 2010 he was awarded the Ordway Prize for contributions to the field in the form of writing and exhibitions.