From 22 November 1997 through 11 January 1998, Witte de With presented Arena and National Chain, two new installations by the American artist Rita McBride.

McBride’s work exists in the perimeters of art, design and architecture. In recent years, sometimes in collaboration with other artists, she has made site-specific works and objects in a wide range of materials (such as glass, bronze, rattan). Inspired by the environs of Witte de With, the two new installations literally transformed the exhibition space and provided a new structure for Witte de With.

Arena is an oval grandstand which intersects and connects all the second-floor rooms at Witte de With. It is a large temporary, lightweight structure made of plywood covered on both sides with Twaron (an extremely tough aramide weave) and epoxy resin. Arena posesses a strong theatrical dimension. Upon entering Witte de With, the visitor immediately becomes part of the spectacle; alternating between actor and spectator. National Chain occupies the entire third floor at Witte de With. It is formed by a grid of metal strips used in the sectional ceilings so characteristic of modern architecture. This universal standard system is found in spaces with widely differing functions, such as residential or office buildings and airports. McBride mounted the grid upside down and at shoulder height, so that it acts as a lowered ceiling for Arena.In order to enter National Chain, the visitor will bend and rise repeatedly throughout the space, utilizing the open grid to accommodate this movement. Once inside the grid, one’s sense of inclusion is exaggerated further by the diagonally articulated grid juxtaposed with the wholly symmetrical architecture of Witte de With.

The exhibition is accompanied by a publication in the form of a magazine devised by Rita McBride. Bartomeu Mari’s introduction is followed by Dominic van den Boogerd’s interview with Rita McBride, an essay by the German art historian Christian Rattemeyer and an article on Roman arenas by the American archeologist Paloma Schulz.

After the presentation at Witte de With, Arena will be shown at the Kunstverein München.

—Supported by

Mondriaan Stichting / Praktijkbureau Beeldende Kunstopdrachten, Amsterdam; Stichting VSB Fonds, Utrecht; Akzo Nobel, Arnhem; Stichting Bevordering van Volkskracht, Rotterdam; and Stichting Verzameling Van Wijngaarden – Boot, Rotterdam.

National Chain
BOAG Bouwadviesgroep; C. Schol Schildersbedrijf; Hoek en Donker Bouwbedrijf B.V.; and BOVERO; all Rotterdam based.