About this exhibition
Rita McBride works with the language of sculpture, employing the vocabularies of architecture and design. Her cross-disciplinary practice also encompasses collaborative publications, editions, performances and large-scale works in public space. Following in the line of surveys at WIELS by mid-career artists, this exhibition – titled Explorer – features new productions and existing works, including several pieces never before shown in Europe. Attuned as she is to space and context, with her signature humour McBride has developed an exhibition that responds to the particular qualities of the WIELS building and its exhibition architecture. She is fondly critical of Modernist architecture and the utopian project of Modernism. As one critic put it, McBride’s work is a “light-handed and witty critique of the pleasures and vagaries of Modernism’s nervous breakdown.”
Spanning all three floors of WIELS’ exhibition spaces, McBride presents a new work titled Guide Rails (2017). The installation, 200 metres of freestanding white wooden structures, quotes original guide rails found in the Santa Monica mountains that once led to the private ranch of the humourist and celebrated cowboy, Will Rogers. The length of McBrides’ Guide Rails replicates that of the white walls of Richard Venlet’s exhibition architecture, commissioned by WIELS for its 10th anniversary exhibition, The Absent Museum. These newly created temporary delineations for WIELS highlight the lively and co-dependent relationships between architects, artists, cultural institutions and the politics of real estate. The Guide Rails will host more than 20 artist interventions, described as Something Stronger Than Me*.
In dialogue with this new installation, the exhibition presents a selection of McBride’s pieces that reveal how sculpture and architecture inform and measure one another. These works reintroduce forms that are often overlooked in our built environment: air conditioning units, pipes, skylights, telecommunications boxes. McBride transforms their typical materials or shifts their scale to explore the tensions between functionalism and formalism. The earliest date from 1992, the most recent from 2017, revealing the consistency of her approach and vision. They include her Glass Conduits (1999-2004), White Elephants (1999-2015), Managers and Minimanagers (2003-2004), and Vents (2010), among others.
Rita McBride (b. 1960, Des Moines, Iowa, U.S.A.) lives and works between Düsseldorf and Los Angeles.
15.09.2017 - 07.01.2018
Curated by Zoë Gray
With the support of:
BNP Paribas Fortis
Alexander and Bonin, New York
Konrad Fischer Galerie, Berlin/Düsseldorf
Galleria Alfonso Artiaco, Naples