The metal ballet of Ballast & Barricades at Philadelphia’s Institute of Contemporary Art
By Levi Bentley for Artblog
February 24, 2020
Walking into the Michelle Lopez show Ballast & Barricades at the ICA is to be shocked by verticality. By the stretch and depth of the space fully used and filled in all dimensions.
In the title piece, construction scaffolding floats free, bending, balanced sparsely on narrow feet of piping and serpentine metal cabling. Some sections don’t touch the floor at all. The assemblage seems like it should not be able to stand, and yet it floats, hovering mid lift-off. Barricades twist along the ground and through the air, the echoing blue and orange bars like a refrain. How many times have I seen a warped and discarded pile in a pile like the forms of a collapsed alphabet. Some pieces of Ballast and Barricades hanging entirely in the air, are, upon closer inspection, bolted to walls, but these structural bolts secured through portals cut into the wall are camouflaged by the whimsical bolts and ports which punctuate the space.