Exhibition organized by MACBA and curated by Bartomeu Marí
Educated in the United States but based in Germany, Rita McBride is
a professor at the prestigious Kunstakademie Düsseldorf. Her work
explores the production of public space and the reception of culture
through sculptures that recreate familiar elements from our immediate
environment. McBride sometimes dramatizes objects related to architecture
and design, often through the use of unusual materials and unexpected
dimensions. As such, she examines acquired notions of shape, function, and
material in relation to a vocabulary that challenges the myths of progress
induced by modern ideology. In her pieces, industrialization, mass
production processes, and the laws of efficiency are brought up against the
role of handmade artifacts and the sphere of the dysfunctional. McBride
thus pushes the boundaries and the qualities of the white cube, a spatial
modality that is often considered indispensable for the neutrality required
to exhibit artworks.
On entering the
exhibition we immediately encounter a reconstruction of the ground floor of
Villa Savoye, the famous house designed by Swiss architect Le Corbusier
(1887–1965) and built between 1929 and 1931 in Poissy, France. In
Backsliding, Sideslipping, one Great Leap and the "Forbidden"
(1994–2012) the life-size floor plan of the villa becomes a kind of
pedestal for other sculptures: Double Helix Spiral Staircase (1990),
a rattan spiral that rises up towards the ceiling, and Glass
Conduits (1999), glass ducts that make their way along the wall until
they are interrupted by the architecture of the building. McBride breaks
away from the traditional idea of sculpture—the creation of unique
elements intended for contemplation—and instead offers a panoramic,
almost filmic reading of space, in which the artworks and the exhibition
environment come together and form a complex narrative.
aspects that are crucial for understanding Rita McBride's work—scale
and materials—are intertwined in works like Tangerine Cloud
Template (2006), Servants and Slaves (Domestic) (2003), White
Elephant (Wall) (2003), and Chair (Smoked) (2003). These pieces
are based on a perception of architecture as domestic space, in which
modernity makes its mark by subordinating form to function, and bringing
the expressivity of industrial materials into the foreground.
Nevertheless, the work that most forcefully challenges the boundaries of
sculptural functionality is perhaps her best-known and most iconic work,
Arena (1997), an enormous structure that emulates large public
spaces designed to hold crowds. Arena is a kind of huge amphitheatre
that is brought inside the museum space and transforms the conventional
relationships between subject and object. Its very presence changes a space
intended for visual contemplation into another that is ready to host
actions, while its circularity favors encounters among spectators, who
become both perceiving subjects and objects of perception. In conjunction
with the artist, the institution that displays this special work programs a
series of activities (lectures, screenings, performances) that are usually
excluded from the exhibition space.
Arena is not the only
work by McBride that has attained monumental dimensions. Other large-scale
works include Mae West (2002–11), a 52-meter-high,
32-meter-wide, 57-tonne carbon fiber sculpture. Located in Effnerplatz, on
the outskirts of the constantly expanding city of Munich, it openly takes
on a colonizing role in relation to public space, both in its scale and its
shape. The artist herself has described it as "a tool to define the
evolution of a relationship between the public and urban ambitions of the
city." In essence, she says, "Mae West is the definition of what
architecture is not and what sculpture has become."
Conversation between Rita McBride and
Friday 18 May, 6pm
Presentation of the book Rita McBride. Oferta pública
/ Public Tender
Wednesday 12 September,
invites artists into the Arena
20 June: Tamara Kuselman
18 July: Laia Estruch
August: Jordi Ferreiro
19 September: Ryan
20 September: Miguel Noguera
Admission with Museum ticket. Limited places.
Day After Day, by Alexander Hick, produced by Rita McBride
Daily in the Museum galleries. Admission with Museum ticket. Limited
Game of Life –
Wave Field Synthesis Sound System
14, 15, 16 June
Compositions by Milo McBride, Barbara Ellison, Funckarma, Robert Henke,
Ji Youn Kang, and others.
Museum galleries. Admission limited to Sonar
attendees only. Limited places.
With the support of the Mondriaan
Daily guided tours
(included in the
Rita McBride. Oferta
pública / Public Tender. Barcelona: Museu d'Art Contemporani de
Barcelona (MACBA), 2012. The book includes a photographic essay by Anne
Pöhlmann and texts by Luis Fernández-Galiano, Mark Wigley, and
Bartomeu Marí. Single edition in Catalan, Spanish, and English.
Alexander Hick, Day After
Day (film still), 2011. Courtesy the artist.