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
Keep Their Heads Ringin' combines two forms of public gatherings—a funeral procession and a tour of former histories—alongside the backdrop of the recent climate of the 2020 protests against long-standing racism, BIPOC civilian deaths nationwide, particularly in Philadelphia’s own communities a few days before last year's presidential election. The sound work points towards a reckoning of loss felt not only in relation to the pandemic but also to what it exposed: a series of collapsing social systems within an urgent global crisis.
The project takes on the complicated symbolism of the American Liberty Bell as an emblem of freedom and equality, which is also marked with failure: its famed crack rendered the iconic hunk of cast-iron broken and silenced at its arrival. The upcoming performance will consists of a silent march around Independence Hall where the broken bell is exhibited, with the sound of the bell emanating amongst the marchers.
The work is commissioned by Protocinema as part of an exhibition titled A Few In Many Places, bringing together five artists in five cities to create site-specific commissioned works.
Location: Independence Hall
Date August 29th, 2021
Read more about the project on Split World
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.
Invited to the Hermitage Artist Retreat as a resident April-May 2021.
Chandelier 2 will be installed at The Podium Manila. Read more about the project here
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
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.