Magazine article Artforum International

Alexander and Bonin

Magazine article Artforum International

Alexander and Bonin

Article excerpt

RITAT MCBRIDE

Rita McBride's art deflates the bloated tenets of high-modernist city planning and design and exposes the culs-de-sac of once-nigh-sacred art and architectural presumptions. With Duchampian verve, McBride strips bare modernism's "bachelor"-hood, even, revealing its complicity with the spatial isolation, regimentation, and domestication of the body--particularly the female body. The real trick of her canny and droll work is that it undertakes these trenchant critiques and still manages to look spare, elegant, and appealing--which is to say, modernist.

As the title of her latest show, "White Elephant and Albatrosses," suggests, McBride's recent work concerns anachronism, or more specifically, the weightiness of the left over. In this case what's left over is a residual Minimalism, which, depending on your perspective, is either modernism's last gasp or its postmortem. White Elephant, 1999, is a large (but not white) copper cast of an old industrial air-conditioning unit. The sculpture shares with early Minimalist work an interest in what some called the "gestalt" (others, the "theatricality") of machine-made objects. Clunky yet stylish, it looks like a Serraesque cube, but a lighter, loftier one, with vents jutting out its sides.

The "albatrosses" are, presumably, the five large "Machines," 2001, squat cast-steel shapes sheathed in institutional beigey-green enamel. These look even more like Minimalist sculptures--one thinks immediately of early Robert Morris pieces like Untitled (Slab), 1962--but with their little juts and slots they are not quite geometric, and they seem almost humanoid in proportion. …

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