Opening Reception: Wednesday, April 13, 2016, 19:00-21:00
Exhibition Dates: April 13–July 3, 2016
Opening Hours: Tuesday–Saturdays, 13:00-21:00, Sundays 12:00-20:00
At Alt Art Space, Protocinema presents New York based artist Michelle Lopez’s single-channel video Invisible Object, 2016, and installation Halyard, 2014, a silver pole that extends from the floor to the crown of one of Alt’s many historic vaulted ceilings. At first approach, the work reads as a minimal sculpture which later reveals to be the base of a 40ft. flagpole with its halyard and cleat clearly visible. The rope constantly brushes against the cleat of the pole, while the sound of a huge flag flapping in the air is audible above. In the glaring absence of a flag, this well-orchestrated emulation of the ultimate symbol of nations hints at the artificiality of these “imagined communities”. 
Lopez creates sculptural inversions of cultural iconography, revealing notions of human failure. In a country where gigantic flags are a common symbol of state, Lopez’s intervention in Istanbul also brings into question its site–the historic Bomonti Beer Factory. First established by Swiss brothers Adolph and Voltaire Bomonti during the last decade of the 19th century, the factory was nationalized after the founding of the Turkish Republic in 1934 as part of the bigger project of having an industrialized “national economy.” At a time when definitions of nations are subject to more open debate but still fuel wars on a global scale, Lopez asks what our affiliations are made of and how much substance there is to them. This gesture of removing the flag itself drains the “flag” of its primary purpose of nationalism and patriotism, and tampers with the familiarity of such public spaces in order to unravel the police state within its whipping sound. The sound of a flag then becomes its own character.
[1.] Benedict Anderson. Imagined Communities. Verso: London and New York, 2006.
Michelle Lopez, 1970, New York, US. Solo exhibitions include: The Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art, Connecticut, curated by Amy Smith-Stewart, 2014; Simon Preston, New York, 2015; Galerie Christophe Gaillard, Paris, 2016; LA><ART, Los Angeles, 2008. Lopez’s work was was included in Greater New York, PS1 Contemporary Art Center, Long Island City, New York 2000; Public Art Fund, Metrotech Center, New York, 2000; and California Biennial, OCMA, Orange County, CA, 2004. Other recent group exhibitions include Temporary/Contemporary, Bass Museum of Art, Miami, FL, A Chromatic Loss, curated by Jeffrey Uslip, Bortolami Gallery, New York, 2014; Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, 2005, and Artist Space, New York, 2008. Lopez received her MFA from the School of Visual Arts, New York and BA from Barnard College, Columbia University, New York and is a faculty member at the Yale School of Art in the department of Sculpture. She lives and works in Brooklyn, New York and Guilford, CT.
All images courtesy the artist and Simon Preston Gallery, New York.