Michael Lopez

Writing for Final Viewings at Julius Caesar Gallery

The pieces in this exhibition are combinations of references to films, people, and events, mixed with forms and color in monumental or memorial-like structures. Previously these pieces have been used as individual elements for installations that have been arranged by stacking or propping. In this context, they are fixed into place—sometimes referenced by gravestones—to signal a sense of finality. The materials used span wood, fabric, ceramic, paint, plaster, and plastic.
When reading tarot cards you are given a selection of random cards in a prescribed arrangement and then have to develop a narrative filtered through your own perspective and experience. You are meant to fill in the gaps to a story that makes sense to you. I have my own ideas of how these pieces coalesce into a completed arrangement through the process of constructing them, but what you see when they are completed is entirely your problem.
The Monks of Sainte-Marie-des-Bois, Michelle Remembers, Selling Sunset is one of the first pieces that I made that used references in this way. Michelle Remembers is considered by some to be the impetus of the satanic panic, a supposedly true account of a woman uncovering hidden memories through hypnosis of being ritualistically tortured by Satanists. The component referencing Michelle Remembers acts as a horizontal barrier in an arrangement resembling a gravestone cross.The top piece, The Monks of Sainte-Marie-des-Bois, is a reference to De Sade’s Justine in which the protagonist is held captive and systematically tortured by sadistic monks. The bottom piece references Selling Sunset, a flashy reality TV show where ambitious realtors compete to sell property under the tutelage of a pair of hairless tanned twin brothers. If i translated this arrangments into a film what forms in my mind is something colorful, tacky, over-the-top, mixed with 70’s film grain, a color palette from how I remember Agnes of God, candle-lit monasteries from Westerns, with whatever the mean, trashy, giddy tone of Freeway is.
I think at this moment there is a desperate search for a story that explains why things are the way they are. Having a set story allows you to proceed confidently without guilt. At this time this desire seems impossible to fulfill and there isn’t a clear way to move forward. Headstones mark the absolute completion of a person’s story; their agency in their story is concluded. In this work the grave is like the fantasy of putting a pin in living specimens to hold a form when a stable narrative seems like an impossibility.

Photo by Roland Miller

To see more of Final Viewings at Julius Caesar as well as "A blue lead pencil and a pair of shears” by Kate Conlon follow this link:
https://www.juliuscaesarchicago.net/kate-conlon-michael-lopez