An excerpt from Cara M. Jordan’s essay titled Directing Energy: Gordon Matta-Clark’s Pursuit of Social Sculpture.
"Matta-Clark attempted to harness human creativity to combat man’s destructive habits, a goal he shared with the German artist Joseph Beuys, who described such artworks as “social sculpture.” ….. Although Matta-Clark tended toward more symbolic interventions that activated participants outside the art world in New York, his efforts nonetheless embody Beuys’s demand for a new political conception of aesthetics. As his own form of social sculpture, Matta-Clark’s socially conscious artwork subtly shaped man’s relationship with space through a redirection of creative energy.
….. Even at this early juncture in his career, Matta-Clark demonstrated a synergy with Beuys’s belief that art could include the entire process of living-thoughts, actions, dialogue, and objects - and therefore could be enacted by a wide range of people who were not professional artists.
… Matta-Clark began renovating a storefront at the corner of Prince and Wooster Streets for a project that also built upon this idea. The former luncheonette was transformed into Food, the restaurant he opened with Carol Goodden. Less explicitly political than Matta-Clark’s other socially engaged artworks, Food was the natural result of his experimentation with food as an artistic medium and the convivial atmosphere of the pair’s social circle, in which art-themed dinner parties were frequent occasions. ….
Food was a place where artists met and discussed ideas, had an inexpensive meal, and found paid jobs to support their own work (much of which was not marketable in traditional gallery settings)…..
Unlike his collaborations, Matta-Clark thought of Food as a work of art, from the design of its interior and the special Sunday menus curated by artists (Donald Judd, Keith Sonnier, and Yvonne Rainer, among others) to the films he produced of meal preparations and service.
… Employing his own form of social sculpture at a time when New York was on the brink of collapse, Matta-Clark used art to combat the constant threat of displacement, a lack of city services, and growing inequality by transforming abandoned spaces into places that reflected the basic needs of residents…… Matta-Clark’s socially engaged projects demonstrate how art can be a beacon for the resistance of societal problems, including inequality and the destruction of the environment.”