ONLINE: Rita McBride: Analog Access
May 11 – Jul 30, 2021
May 11 - July 30, 2021
In her sculptural works, American artist Rita McBride takes a shortcut with minimalism by directly and formally quoting objects or architectural forms from the urban environment. Changing the scale and emancipating materials and surfaces, she allows these aspects to become active semantic principles…Her works often address modernist inertia, feminist alternative approaches to artistic production, publicness, and Institutional Critique, though none of this is explicit. McBride creates works that often ignore—or simply outsmart—any male or capitalist context of artistic production they function in.1
Analog Access, Alexander and Bonin’s online presentation of Rita McBride’s work, includes the vocabularies of keys, door knockers, locks, and keyholes first exhibited at Alexander and Bonin, New York and Konrad Fischer Galerie, Düsseldorf in 2015, and the following year at Mai 36 Galerie, Zurich. The works are of varied dimensions, processes, and materials that exemplify McBride’s practice of subverting an object’s connotations.
The function of keys are derived from social structures and the norms of access within a community. Just as a key only opens a specific lock and loses meaning without knowledge of the corresponding lock, the key’s ability to represent a society’s visual organization relies on familiarity with specific contexts.
McBride’s exhibitions examine and question systems of display. The presentation of McBride’s keys, door knockers, locks, keyholes and templates has varied in response to their various exhibition spaces. Titled after countries and regions, the works’ mutability recall board games where places are won and lost, combined and divided.
1. Verstraete, Dries. “Conversations: Rita McBride ‘Explorer’ at WIELS, Brussels.” Mousse Magazine, Oct. 2017, p. 186.
The key, the lock, the keyhole, and the doorknocker are all engaged in a bitter struggle for control and access. All of their “differences” are mediated by the door itself, a dumb chunk of wood hung on all-too-willing hinges. The concept of “mediation,” or “mediated,” is notoriously unreliable. Does it mean “intermediary” or rather “mediator” as in the person who seeks to achieve a compromise in the great struggle between the haves and the have-nots? Access can be achieved through a variety of strategies. There is legitimate access (having the correct key), belonging so fully to the structure that the system works perfectly in your favor. Then there is stolen access, sophisticated thieves using their little lock-picking sets or skeleton keys. Finally, there is the entreaty, a polite knock on the door, aided by the ornamental knocker affixed at shoulder height, a formal request. Access becomes a metaphor for social relations, and how can we construct relations if not by physical punishment, verbal coercion, seduction, printed admonitions, or the gentle modesty of custom?
These works investigate and explore the nature of social relations and property. Slightly larger than life-sized hardware: keys, padlocks, doorknockers, and lock plates (almost all works are water-jet or plasma-cut from thick sheets of brass, aluminum, and steel with the exception of a group cast in bronze), compete with each other for dominance. These objects’ forms are uncomfortable in the oddly computer-generated digital abstraction of their origins. Some are richly patinated in ancient brown and blue, others are brightly anodized, others are left to rust and a further group reveal the molten process of pouring bronze)
^ description from "Rita McBride: Public Works, 1988-2015" a field manual by Gina Ashcraft and Mark von Schlegell