National Treasures

EXTENSION including Rita McBride

8 June until 14 July 2018
“Don’t look at me in that tone of voice”

Dorothy Parker

Investigating the crossroads between sculpture, architecture and design Rita McBride’s collaboration with Micky Damm and Christian Odzuck purposefully pokes fun at Modernism’s horrible long lost grandsons. Channeling a somewhat “expanded sculptural” sensitivity as their starting point the group wanders through medial labyrinths and referential alleyways in order to confront the long process that allegedly gave birth to the ever so charming idea of “contemporaneity”. Asking the right questions without ever having to dictate their rightful answers we are presented a user’s guide to the blind spots of continental modernity.
The Düsseldorf based group began with obtaining large amounts of aluminium tiles from an old modernist department store. The occasion allows for a series of experiments around the paradoxes of working with an architectural vocabulary within an institutional framework. McBride’s practice revolves around a trans-disciplinary and collaborative process, that doesn’t hesitate to address vital critical questions without losing its wit and humor. Combining sculptural interventions, objects and a series of publications she rejects the idea of taking center stage and opts for a discreet place in the shadows, hiding the author and sharpening her tongue.
<It’s a joke waiting for its punch line, a study on how to stir art theoretical and historical discourses with a cunning smile, or even a bedtime story about a red caped feminist icon that’s had just about enough with all the big bad wolfs ruining her life.
A large scale installation consisting of individual diamond shaped aluminium elements dominates the gallery’s front space cutting it in half while occupying the main entrance and storefront window. Creating an obvious obstacle the viewer’s obligated to reevaluate the way she’s / he’s accustomed to approaching a work of art, whether hanging on a wall or lying on the floor. The space itself, both negative and not, cannot be held to simple background noise, but rather opens itself for creative dialogue. The Tulip Pulpit, a tulip shaped wooden base completed with publications, sketches and works on paper, showcases a series of narratives shaped from pre-existing structures that will merge and unavoidably fold into themselves, developing unexpectedly with each one completing what the other one started. Networks of information intertwine in a dynamic manner, constantly becoming but never simply being. Alluding to the idea of fleshing out National Treasures the group builds an environment that plays with our understanding and expectations around art’s stance in the public sphere and its counterpart within an institutional framework.
Making one’s way to the back one senses a quoting process taking place. The idea of (De)Contextualizing objects, concepts and thoughts evolves into a critical dialogue about and through the continental histories and definitions of art. By transforming their focus the pieces go back and forth between an “objet trouvé” and a self-referential structure that highlights the clash between Functionalism and Formalism and points to the one way evolution that left all its –isms behind. Referencing Minimalism’s heritage whilst sneaking through the backdoor of Conceptual Art’s obsession with burning commodities at the stake, EXTENSION comes face to face with the unavoidable problematic of dealing with the mess of our forth fathers. Both on closeted white cubes and open air sceneries.
It’s about being wittingly cynical on the face of a utopian tale you already know the ending of; about rejecting the idea of being put in your place within a linear narration that has the audacity to make a leap of faith from a point A to point B, without taking into account the chaos lurking in-between.
And it’s in that precise ‘space in- between’, where the show comes to life, existing within a dismantled network of formalist histories, national memories and wisecracking jokes.

Haris Giannouras