Michelle Lopez: Ballast & Barricades

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Mark Owens
Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania
Aruna D'Souza, Alex Klein, Joselina Cruz, Josh Kline, and Paul Pfeiffer
7.5 x 10 inches
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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.