Gallerynote 5/2006

November 3, 2006 to January 20, 2007

Since 1999, the artist Rita McBride and the Mai 36 and Annemarie Verna galleries have enjoyed a close and unusual connection. The intensive collaboration, evidenced by an initial presentation in both galleries and four alternating solo exhibitions, shows itself to be a long-term project that aims to do justice to the multifaceted nature of her work and its exceptional wealth of allusions and references. Rita McBride's oeuvre unfolds as the fruitful result of many confounding interpretations and readings. The artist is able to fully exploit the possibilities of the two galleries in Zurich, each with different architectonic conditions and very different histories. For she is not least interested in the gallery, the artscene, as a place, as an institution and as a metaphor. Needless to say, the galleries have to put up with quite a bit as a result. Rita McBride does not submit to tacit expectations or explicit preconditions of an experienced apparatus for exploiting art. Moreover, her installations often involve a substantial intervention and confrontational attack in and on the integrity of the gallery spaces.

These multiple levels are of particular interest for all those concerned – and this is also meant to include the recipients of her art. Without fail, the persons involved are made aware of their aesthetic convictions, measures of value and decisions in this regard and what seems to be established as a critical and resistant guiding principle suddenly tips over into pure affirmation.

Paul Valéry introduced the objet ambigue into aesthetic and philosophical discussions. Related to this is the aesthetic object that Rita McBride expertly brings up to date and applies in the context of contemporary art and the artscene. It is part of the game that she unceremoniously reveals her processes of alienation, conversion, hypostatization of the trivial and canonized collections of the forms of modernity. In contrast, the uncertainty, surprise and astonishment triggered by the actual constellation of the works consistently come across as new and explosive. "A work of art should always teach us that we have not yet seen what we are seeing." This notion, likewise formulated by Paul Valéry, is fulfilled by Rita McBride's works with pointed inconsistency and if the poet writes that "seeing is sufficient for understanding," then clarity is paired with blurredness in her works. The vast difference between fact and concept, between the matters of course that unmistakably signal to us all the possible contexts of meaning and the diffuse openness that occurs when this reliability is denied us, open up a potentiality of visual recognition that easily surpasses any violation of the rules of a now inexistent canon.

The form and material of the sculptures oscillate between depiction, citation and surrogate. The autonomous ambiguity and validity of the works are emancipated from the prescribed referential context. Where the original model represents functionality, this is inverted in the given case into its opposite. Where the works appropriate the patterns of presentation and structural forms of modernistic art, the narrative subject denies this pretense its legitimacy.

Gallery Mai 36 at Rämistrasse 35 (3rd floor) is showing a selection of further works by Rita McBride.