It's New York in the 1970s. The optimism of '60s America has faded into cynicism and despair. The city is so broke that it's almost bankrupt. People are fleeing to the suburbs and industry New York is shutting down, leaving abandoned warehouses, homes and tenements scattered throughout. Meanwhile, artists flock to the city from all around the world in search of cheap, or free, housing and camaraderie.

A New York native, Gordon Matta-Clark (1943-78) saw other endless possibilities in the rubble of the decaying metropolis.

Matta-Clark is best-known for the works he created by cutting out sections of buildings — warehouses, abandoned tenements and others slated for demolition — but he also worked in a variety of mediums, including film, photography and food. The current exhibition of his work at The Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, is the first retrospective of his work to be shown in Asia.