Lasers in a Gallery: Rita McBride’s Particulates

11.16.17 | By
Lasers in a Gallery: Rita McBride’s Particulates

Sixteen high-intensity lasers cut through the misty air of a dark garage in West Chelsea. The latest work by artist Rita McBride feels like an inter-dimensional wormhole. It’s beautiful, legitimately dangerous, and it just took Art History to a new level.

Particulates will remain on view in New York at Dia:Chelsea, a former marble-cutting facility, through June. The building looks completely shuttered – enter through the single doorway on the right with the “Danger: Laser Radiation” sign.

Besides the lasers, materials are listed as “site-specific particulates, ambient extraterrestrial dust, and water molecules (which I’m pretty sure is just the coolest way to say “regular dust and mist”). I love it.

Rita McBride, Particulates

Rita McBride, Particulates (and me)

Rita McBride, Particulates (detail)

The zig-zagging fence in the room is not to be ignored: It is both legally necessary AND a separate sculpture. Titled Barriers 2017, it consists of a carbon-fiber gate placed at the “lawful distance” from the high-intensity lasers.

Rita McBride, Barriers

Particulates marks McBride’s first use of lasers as a material – inspired by a visit to Dan Flavin’s 1973 work ”Untitled (to you Heiner, with admiration and affection)” at Dia:Beacon, the art foundation’s primary exhibition space located 60 miles north. McBride references Flavin’s the green light, the “fence” form, and the idea of infinity, but HER work really IS infinite. Unbound by a light bulb, the only thing that’s really stopping the lasers is the opposite wall. Thinking about the two works in conversation, I couldn’t help but notice that the lasers face north – towards Flavin’s room in Beacon. I may be reading into it a little and inventing my own connection, but one’s imagination tends to go into overdrive when you’re in this room.

Rita McBride, Particulates

ATTENTION: Throughout the run of the show, the sculpture will be live streamed (usually) from a wall-mounted camera INSIDE the sculpture!!! Check it:

What: Rita McBride: Particulates
Where: Dia:Chelsea 541 W 22nd Street (Note: The primary museum is $ admission, but you can enter 541 for free)
When: October 17, 2017 – June 2, 2018

Cover photo by Joerg Lohse courtesy Dia:Chelsea © Rita McBride. All other images photographed by the author David Behringer.

David Behringer visits over 200 galleries every month to uncover and share the most exciting contemporary art in New York today. Subscribe to his exclusive weekly newsletter at and learn about his private gallery tours. And be sure to check out his YouTube.