NOW! Book Release: Ballast & Barricades

In Ballast & Barricades Michelle Lopez employs a formal, fragmented architectural language to critique symbols of nationalism, power, and consumption. In this suspended cityscape reduced to rubble, blockades, borders, flags, and natural elements bleed together while remnants of construction sites and scaffolding create a delicate system of counterweights and counterbalances—all meticulously crafted by hand. For Lopez, this sculptural terrain suggests an ongoing history of bodies and violence in the absence of figuration. It is an urban landscape fabricated out of the material remains of crisis, teetering on the brink of collapse. This full-color catalog documents Lopez’s dizzying, site-specific intervention in the ICA gallery alongside a group of recent sculptures and reproductions of select works from the past two decades. New essays by Aruna D’Souza and ICA curator Alex Klein provide art historical context and unpack the geopolitical resonances within Lopez’s project. These concerns are further explored in an edited conversation between Lopez, artists Paul Pfeiffer and Josh Kline, and curator Joselina Cruz, that ruminates on the complexities of Filipinx identity, postcolonial cultural production, and the rise of authoritarianism.

Read excerpt from the catalogue here
Purchase the catalogue here

UPCOMING! Keep Their Heads Ringin' near Independence Hall

Protocinema presents MICHELLE LOPEZ TOUR: Keep Their Heads Ringin’, a free public walking tour of Philadelphia’s Independence Park with the artist and her recent audio installation, titled Keep Their Heads Ringin’ (2020-21). Expanding traditional exhibition models regarding time and space, this work was commissioned within the context of A Few In Many Places, exhibited for the first time in 2020, and extending the exhibition now in an additional site.

In Philadelphia, Lopez’s performance combines forms of public processions —a funeral, a walking tour of dominant histories, and a silent protest. The walk will begin at Independence Square. When the Centennial Bell strikes at 7:00 pm a tour guide will lead the participants through Independence National Park, home of the Liberty Bell, and the signing of the Declaration of Independence (Independence Hall). Lopez’s bell intervention permeates the historic site through sound devices carried by the participants of the performance. The sound piece fuses solemn gongs of the neighboring Grace Church bell (created in the same foundry as the Liberty Bell) with a composition by Austin Fisher.

August 29th, Sunday, 6:45 pm, Washington Square, Corner of Walnut and S. 6th Street, Philadelphia, Procession: 35 minutes, Rain or Shine, Within A Few In Many Places (2020-21), a group exhibition across multiple cities

Read more about project here

2021 Finalist for Penn's Landing Park public art commission with Sharon Hayes

In collaboration with artist Sharon Hayes, the Forum is a sculpture, a gathering site, a public amenity, a reparation to the landscape and a recognition of the waterfront as a complex site holding meaningful histories. Our work looks beyond the dominant stories of Philadelphia to give a platform to the less-known narratives that are a vital part of our present and future as a city.

The sculpture has two components. A 500ft. long, low wall carved into the landscape that arcs alongside the edge of a designed sidewalk in shape of the 18th century shoreline of the Lenapewihittuck, the name the Lenape gave to the Delaware River. The gesture speaks to the Lenape’s custom of clearing land near riverbeds for settlement and ceremonial assembly. The jagged and rippling boundary orients park visitors to the original geography of the land, and excavates submerged histories along the waterfront.

Sitting inside this gathering site is a constellation of 5 concrete slabs that emerge from the meadow as reimagined ruined fragments from the foundation of Pennsylvania Hall, an 1838 anti-slavery venue near the waterfront that was burned down by a white mob 4 days after its opening. Taking up the Hall’s commitments: freedom, hope, change, righteous collective struggle and justice, the platforms are an invitation for contemporary publics to listen, sing, reflect, dance, testify, witness and be free. They are for park goers, families, friends to sit and hang out and also for organized events like theater, dance, poetry or music. The differently-sized platforms allow for small informal performance and large ticketed events.

Our work invites people to make it their own; it will transform as the city’s transforms; it reaches out to our future selves with a grounded accountability to our rich and diverse pasts. The Forum provides a new foundation that reaches across platforms to see each other anew.

The project is currently in the community feedback phase. Please give your feedback and vote for The Forum here
Read more about the Penn's Landing Park Artwork Commission here

2021 Hermitage Artist Retreat

Invited to the Hermitage Artist Retreat as a resident April-May 2021.

2021 Public Art Commission Manila

Chandelier 2 will be installed at The Podium Manila. Read more about the project here

2022 Public Art Commission by Ray/Dasha Zhukova

SAME UNDER ONE SKY is a public artwork that is in search for unity and commonality. The project attempts to create a series of reparations to the erasures that have happened historically in terms of class, ethnicity, and race, and also to acknowledge these same divisions of difference that are happening nationally and locally with the recent uprisings. The sentiment of protecting neighborhood still pervades despite differences.

The work will be installed on the exterior of Ray Fishtown in 2022 as a permanent public art. Read more about the project here

2028 Public Art Commission Norman Foster building in Manila

BDO has commissioned a freestanding Blue Angel at the newly designed Norman Foster bulding in Makati, Philippines. The 40 ft tall mirrored sculpture will sit in the center of the public plaza.