Rita McBride

Museum Abteiberg

Assembled out of softly rounded wooden elements and painted a bright yellow, Rita McBride’s Arena, 1997, filled the entire exhibition space of the Witte de With in Rotterdam when it was first shown that year, reaching almost to the ceiling. Yet its imposing format appeared to be truncated, an abbreviated version of what was possible—the curve along which nine rows of seats rose up could have been augmented by several more to produce a complete circle, but was instead left incomplete. Fittingly, in the Museum Abteiberg’s “Public Works,” McBride’s first retrospective in Germany, Arena can only be seen in the form of Arena Modular Model, 1996, a miniature version of the piece presented under a glass dome. On the museum tour that followed the work’s first installation in 1997 (no other work by McBride has been more frequently exhibited), Arena was invariably accompanied by an elaborate program

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