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In Paris, an Ode to the Intangible
Grace-Yvette Gemmell

Nature may abhor a vacuum, but Brooklyn-based artist Michelle Lopez embraces the void. So much so, in fact, that her new sculptural work entitled Invisible Object (2016) is physically immaterial, manifesting itself only in descriptive traces rendered by verbal and gesticulatory language. The new video work, currently on display in her solo show Chandelier at Galerie Christophe Gaillard in Paris, joins a number of other works that engage and play with different aspects of emptiness and absence.

In this dive into nothingness, Invisible Object lies at one extreme. The video, approximately 16 minutes long, takes its conceptual inspiration and its name from Hands Holding the Void (Invisible Object) (1935), a highly stylized, large-scale sculpture created by Swiss artist Alberto Giacometti. In his sculpture, a female figure positions her hands as if she is holding or offering something—but that something is absent.

Likewise, Lopez’s Invisible Object hinges on its capacity to present absence. The video alternates between a cluster of different women and one man, all of whom have been asked to close their eyes and describe an object we cannot see. The absent object is made present by way of an aggregate description delivered in a range of languages and, when words fail, physical gestures.

Two works entitled Chandelier (both 2016) also embody Lopez’s ode to the intangible. Carved from lead crystal, the objects resemble ropes turned into delicate ice sculptures; their original shape and purpose linger only in a whisper. Elsewhere, pieces in her Smoke Cloud series depict billows of murky smoke—the quintessential embodiment of nearly nothingness. Lopez pushes the theme further by delivering these images on glass, a transparent material, invisible but real.