RITA MCBRIDE

SERVANTS AND SLAVES

Exhibition in the Mai 36 Gallery and the Annemarie Verna Gallery, October 10 to November 23 2002
 

The bold exhibition title continues the series of headings that give name to the artist's work presentations and self-consciously differentiate them from one another: 'Aloof and Incidental' (Mai 36 and Verna Gallery, 1999), '472 New Positions' (De Pont Foundation, Tilburg NL, 2001), 'Naked Came The Stranger' (Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein, 2002).

Each of Rita McBride's exhibitions is a staged performance. The event is unique and unrepeatable. The works are the protagonists, conveying both foreignness and familiarity. They are identifiable, for they resemble their counterparts in real life, at least observed through the conceptual lens. Yet important deviations are apparent. In contrast to the namesakes, they refuse to perform any function. This is all the more drastic, as functionality is what seems to legitimize them. Reference and referred to go distinctly different ways. A nominalistic punch line, so to speak. But also much more, namely an extremely fruitful complication that gets triggered by critical reflection and interpretation. Thanks to this dissociation, the intrinsic value and mirror-image nature of the sculptures are perceivable as powerful metaphors. Status and power of control of the artist, work and art space are deployed and put up for consideration.

Rita McBride, born in 1960 in Des Moines, Iowa, works as a sculptor and also teaches. She employs material, form and volume and attempts to transmit her experiences. The material and surfaces of her objects are the expression of convergence or alienation. In the same way, she makes use of the true-to-scale nature and model character of her works, which simulate likeness or withdraw through reduction.

Rita McBride's critical interest is the architecture, spatial planning and design of modernism. The only way she is still able to make out the idealism of this pioneering project's artistic and political pretensions is as a perverted aftertaste. A tragic and comic failure that paradoxically offers release and facilitates openness. The institution of art is indeed an unlikely option in an instrumentalized lebenswelt, yet it once again appears useful as a credible and meaningful societal entity.

Since 1999, Rita McBride has been jointly represented by the Mai 36 and Annemarie Verna galleries, facilitating access to the complex facets of this extraordinary artist's work in an unusually dense exhibition series.

 
Gianfranco Verna