Leaving the White Cube of Ekprhasis: Gordon Matta-Clark’s Conical Intersection

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapter


This chapter reconsiders the conventional conceptualization of ekphrasis as a “double representation”. In a case study, intertwining ancient rhetoric with contemporary agential rhetoric, we present Gordon Matta-Clark’s (1943-78) Conical Intersect (Paris, 1975) as ekphrasis in its reality-producing dimension and beyond the subjectivism of intentional actions. In our proposal, we introduce ekphrasis as rooted in agential realism and multimodal performative rhetoric. Our rhetorical understanding of ekphrasis ties in with the ancient sense of mimesis and poiesis as crafting, forming and “pro-ducing” something into the light. Endowed with the energy of affect, ekphrasis shows and “presences”, before eyewitnesses, something absent. This rhetoric of “presencing” is described in terms of the light-shedding performativity of “agential cuts”, which bring something hidden or absent into presence by way of “intra-acting” with human and nonhuman actants. Rather than following the strategies involved in translating a source into target media, we stress the embodied “intra-active” process of pro-ducing differences in an act of becoming as a foundational criterion for ekphrasis. Despite the limited attention given to the “durable media products” of photo collage and film as a part of Conical Intersect, we focus on the rhetoric of repetition and variation across the performances in different media formats. Shifting focus away from the dichotomy between live and recorded performances, we argue that the totality creates the effect of making the absent present in different materialized discourses.


External organisations
  • University of California, Berkeley
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Cultural Studies
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTransmediations
Subtitle of host publicationCommunication Across Media Borders
EditorsNiklas Salmose, Lars Elleström
Number of pages21
ISBN (Electronic)9780429282775
ISBN (Print)9780367244866
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Publication categoryResearch