February 26 till April 10, 2010
Artist Rita McBride’s exhibition “Way Out West” shows works created in the context of her sculpture project “Mae West”. In 2002 McBride’s design of a towering 52-meter, carbon fiber sculpture won an international public art competition for a piece to be realized at the Effnerplatz in Munich. The design is titled after 1930s actress and screenwriter Mae West who, in addition to her own accomplished professional activities also garnered fame as a champion of sexual freedom. After several public debates over the budget and sculpture’s formal vocabulary it has yet to be realized in 2010, going against the call for proposals. “Way Out West” introduces the project once more and delivers arguments for a speedy realization of the work.
Here, McBride presents a panorama of the 8 years of work on the piece. Reminiscent of an elegantly tapered torso, the almost dancer-like movement of the sculpture appears in several variants of steel, fabric and paper. The ambivalence of power and femininity on the one hand and a corset-like restrictiveness on the other is made even more apparent in the various materials used: the negative impression in the cool steel is juxtaposed with the model of a television test-pattern in fabric. The versions are also infused with a stylized Wild West ambiance. A rough, timbered stand and casually leaned, equally artificial wagon wheel points to American myths and clichés. The architectonic, serial elements in McBride’s work – beams in the case of the “Mae West” sculpture – not only suggest an endless number of possible forms, here they also create a form with a serial character. Besides “Mae West” and “Two Towers” – an allusion on the shape of the cooling towers in an atomic power plant – this aspect appears both in McBride’s other work and in the work of others, for instance “Cyclone Dining Table” by Isamu Noguchi.