MAE WEST, Proposal for Effnerplatz, Munich, Germany

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Duration: DVD 4:05 min
CD: 4:02
Edition: 9/45 +15AP
Archival: DVD
Exhibition copy: mp4 digital file
Signed Certificate of Authenticity
Provenance Annemarie Verna Galerie

Part of the Blake Byrne Video Collection Compilation

 

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Mae West is a multi-part artwork including a monumentally scaled sculpture, prints, cut metal sculptures, a tapestry, and this important video artwork. The video artwork, which is both visually and conceptually associated with the sculpture, is part-futuristic and part-vintage in both its imagery and vibe. The video, which is accompanied by a continuous, mellow, techno-inspired soundtrack, begins by moving through a simplified, black and white version of Munich to the Effnerplatz. The view begins to spin in and around the tube base at a rapid pace; at around 17 seconds, the view shifts to that of bright red and orange swirling dancers’ skirts. The video shifts back to the sculpture and begins to intersperse these architectural, movement-based scenes of the sculpture with various videos of dancing women and men. The movements of the dancers and their clothing mimic the movement in and around the sculpture’s base, with one scene imitating the movement of both the previous scene and the following one to create a visually stimulating continuity. A scene of dancing around a Maypole materializes, then Bavarian-style dancers holding upside down V-shaped boughs appear to recreate the shape of the sculptural base. Scenes of traffic moving around a crowded traffic circle (possibly a reference to the circular shape of Effnerplatz) materialize, as do general traffic scenes shown from the perspective of pedestrians. These moving images continue to be juxtaposed by moving images in and around the Mae West sculpture, creating visual connections at all times. Scenes of dancers are reintroduced, and the video continues on a loop. This video artwork attests to McBride’s interest in image and object manipulation, material experimentation, and conceptual juxtapositions. 

 

The namesake artwork is the 170-foot tall hyperboloid-shaped sculpture composed of carbon fiber reinforced polymer tubing that was commissioned for the Effnerplatz in Munich, Germany as part of the Mittlerer Ost ring tunnel construction project, and which miraculously allows for a municipal tram to run through it.1 The architecturally scaled sculpture was designed by McBride, planned between 2003 and 2010, and constructed from 2010-2011 with the engineering assistance of Werner Sobek.2 Supposedly named for American actress and temptress Mae West in honor of her famed hourglass figure, the sculpture has also been the subject of many a spotlight.3 In a 2018 interview with Mousse Magazine, the artist said, “With the Mae West public project in Munich, I wanted to challenge assumed dimensions of public sculpture. I chose the shape simply because it is one of the most stable structures approved for building towers. I didn’t want to lose time in engineering, nor offer an already-resistant group of city planners any arguments to block the project. Carbon tubes, which I had seen in the sports world, seemed like a good option. I was particularly excited that nothing like this had ever been built and that the structure itself, let’s say, performed the surface, like an exoskeleton. This is rather rare in the making of sculpture. With lasers, gravity and engineering are no longer a problem.4