Mike Lopez Dealer's Choice Curated by Lauren Leving October 3 - November 7, 2021
Traveling Pieces Cart (interactive installation) at Adler & Floyd, Chicago, IL
Plastic, fabric, acrylic, wood, MDF, elastic, paper, acrylic, miscellaneous
How are exhibition layouts decided? We speak about the roles of the curator and the artist and the way an exhibition changes when the artist assumes the role of the curator, but what about the
preparator? Regularly artists themselves, preparators don’t often have decision-making power during installations that do not involve their own work.
How does an exhibition shift when the decisions are made by those installing the work? Part performance/part exhibition, Dealer’s Choice, a solo presentation of new works by Mike Lopez intends to answer this question. Lopez’s practice seeks to blur the lines between curator, artist, and audience member, challenging traditional notions of authorship and encouraging viewers to become active
participants when engaging with his work. As a result of COVID-19, he has become interested in ways that this tug-of-war can tangibly benefit others. As an art handler keeping close the knowledge that many of his colleagues are currently without work, Dealer’s Choice is not merely an exhibition. It serves as a creative solution to our current crisis by hiring preparators to both assert decision-making power and install the work, performing their own curatorial directives.
Dealer’s Choice is a project in three phases, beginning with an opening performance during which a group of preparators follow loose guidelines to install the work being presented. Instructions such as, “Hang the blue sculpture in the corner and place the work with text on a pedestal nearby,” provide little guidance when distances are not given, locations are unspecified, and multiple sculptures have similar characteristics. Due to the ambiguous directions, the layout
is ultimately decided by the hired crew.
The second phase of Dealer’s Choice activates the viewer, though now without the aspect of unrestricted touching. During select gallery open hours, preparators will be onsite to collaborate with visitors to make changes to the exhibition. Visitors can read from a list of pre-written instructions or relay their own directives to move the sculptures around the gallery space, resulting in a completely new exhibition layout. This encourages preparator-audience communication and minimizes barriers to accessing the exhibition content despite the fact that visitors cannot physically interact with the work at this time.
The third and final phase of Dealer’s Choice is similar to the first phase but reversed. Preparators will return to the gallery to deinstall the exhibition, following arbitrary directions about the order of disassembly. Skirting logic and order, instructions like, “Take down your favorite small sculpture and pack it using the most secure materials,” refuse to abide by rules of efficiency and
demonstrate trust by asking preparators to make choices based on preference and experience.
-Lauren Leving, Curator