Thursday, September 17, 2020

Xavier Lopez Performance Art #27: Just Being: Dematerialized (Can you have a performance with no body present) #1. 2020

This Performance begins to answer the question "Can you have a performance with no body present," in this first answer to the question the camera--essentially the audience's eye is turned outward through a window, away from the artist, who in this first tentative step is still mostly present through a reflection, spoken description and presence behind the camera.

As the Queen of Hearts attempted to teach a Modernist Alice--when Alice haughtily opined that one could not actually believe the impossible . "I daresay you haven't had much practice," said the Queen , "When I was younger, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast." Alice just hadn't had the proper practice, growing up in Victorian England as she did--but in the 100+ years since then, we have all had that practice. Modernism with its heavy reliance on "truth," the manifesto, the "universal," the phallus, masculinity, God, hegemony and so many "isms" "it would make a shy, bald, Buddhist reflect and plan a mass murder," turned very quickly into absurdism, nihilism and went absolutely berserk when they discovered that God had died somewhere on the way to the forum. ix

This was replaced by a football field of vying positions all questioning the supreme hegemony/ies, until it became necessary to bring out the phallus and take away the toys of identity before this post-modernist "play-time" could get out of hand and become a polymorphously perverse, identity orgy. Little did anyone know that when the phallus finally did blow that it would not be a fun, sexual or liberating event (I mean, Freud must have had a sense of that, though-- right?). -Instead, it erupted into a terrified/terrifying, manic, paranoid, madness--at least so it seems--these really are early days so far.

Historically, even when post-modernism sought to deconstruct things, it was still with the faith that what would arise was some sort of deeper truth, even when that truth was ironic, or presented ironically, the result was still filled with hope and faith. There was still the idea that if you took the truth to the top of the mountain and shouted it to the people, that everyone would recognize it, act accordingly and do the right thing. Before this, the funny thing was that in the modern era, this same mountain was the space from which you received, interfaced and interacted with the "Kierkegaardian God " of Enlightenment, then tried to figure out how much of that truth you could keep in your unworthy, little head. Well, nowadays--that mountain has been blown up and strip-mined for the last bits of helium on the planet, no one believes in truth today. Even if you did receive any wisdom from the experience, as soon as you tweeted it you would get a thousand people all coming from so many different points of view that the original "truth" would be completely lost. Then scientists would tell you that we probably live in a giant hologram anyway, so what is the point?

Perhaps this really is the Age of Nefarious--the culmination of DADA and the completion of its agenda. It is an era where reality has met "the Real" head on, and the only ones with any faith are the ones that are trying like crazy not to go completely, irreducibly insane. Luckily, however, this is all just theory and has no real basis in reality--Right? Right. Maybe. Because if it did, then that would be absolute madness, right? Right. 

Just Being: Dematerialized (Can you have a performance with no body present) #1

Xavier Lopez Performance Art #26: Fountain (Soft, Brown-body Remix) After Nauman. Photo: Xavier Lopez Jr. 2020. (During the Pandemic of 2020.)

Fountain (Soft, Brown-body Remix) After Nauman. Photo: Xavier Lopez Jr. 2020. (During the Pandemic of 2020.)

1. Who are you and where are you from? 

My name is Xavier Lopez ; I was born in Southern California, half-way between Hollywood and Disneyland. My first memory is of the warmth of the California sun on my cheeks and visions of the bright blue sky overhead as the song "A Theme From a Summer Place" played all around me in the background of the car radio. From birth, when it came to telling the difference between what was real and what was make-believe--I never stood a chance! 

I came from a family of three siblings and when we were kids we used be left alone at the Hollywood Wax Museum and auto museum and would spend literally days staring at the Batmobile, Bat-cycle and full-sized wax models of old Hollywood stars. When we got home we would make Batman and Robin costumes and fight invisible bad guys until sundown. 

Disneyland was such a prevalent part of my childhood that I actually remember nightmares of the Haunted Mansion before I even remember having been old enough to make sense of the ride. My father used to taunt us by saying, "You're nothing but a nothing, you're nothing but a nothing..." which was a song from some scary Disney cartoon. He would also take our stuffed animals and trick us into believing that they were alive--though my brother who was always much smarter than I was never fooled. 

2. What message do you want people to receive from your artwork? 

There are many layers to my work, I want people to see my work as a questioning of reality, of culture, and of traditional ideas of gender and race. I am absolutely obsessed with the moment in all media when Pinocchio comes to life--the moment when the inanimate becomes animate. That for me is the true moment of magic. At the same time, I tend to think of life as a giant horror movie--grisly and visceral. I tend toward Lacan, Bakhtin and Balzac--rather than Kant, Hegel and Disney--though I understand their places in normative culture--and how we navigate the world. 

At the same time--even when I am employing elements which may seem to be very painterly or Pop--I am still always a conceptualist at heart. I think that historically, at this point in time, we are actually post-pop (once again)--and that that is an amazingly generative space for an artist to be in and to work from. I don't like things to be clean, pure and delineated and it is my goal to marry all of the various strands of my own work--the performance art, sculpture and the pop together into something new--something that we might not have ever seen before. 

Pop, itself is amazingly important because it has always had the ability to make even the hardest ideas easier to take and I do have lots of very complicated, dark, happy, manic, beautiful and ugly things to examine and say in the work. Also, because pop has the ability to make the strongest of medicines go down, I don't think that it will ever completely leave my work--but will rather take its place alongside the more minimalist and conceptual aspects of my work in a working mix and become another tool in my toolkit. 

Do you remember your first artwork, when you knew that you where an artist? 

There have been several moments in which art has saved my life--in which it has reminded me that there never really was any other choice for me. Any true artist knows that they really can't do anything else--I'm pretty much not good at anything else-really. As far as the first moment--it might have gone all the way back to watching my dad painting murals in Hollywood, standing atop a ladder with a crowd of people complaining that what he was painting wasn't art. He looked down at them, paintbrush in hand and said in a very thick Chicano brogue--"Thees, thees is not just art--this is revolution!" 

I still have the very first drawing I ever did--it was of a train and it is probably better than anything I have ever done since. Maybe. 

Who are your favorite artists and inspirations? 

My favorite artist is Marcel Duchamp--he took art out of the realm of the purely retinal into the conceptual. He ended the primacy of the eye and handed it over to the mind. All art that has gone after Duchamp has been inflected by Duchamp. I would not be an artist without him. I could not be an artist after him. 

Robert Rauschenberg was my first favorite artist who didn't illustrate comic books and Mark Ryden took me on a trip for awhile that I am still dealing with. I love Bruce Nauman and did my graduate work at UCDavis--where he attended classes and did performance work. I used to sneak into classes that were taught by late first wave Pop artist Wayne Thiebaud and I really think that you can see the effect that his classes had on my brushwork. 

What tools do you use, to create clean paintings and murals. 

Honestly, I tend to use whatever materials I need to in order to communicate what I am trying to communicate. For the murals its usually a lot of paint and brushes, for the performances it is often latex, masks, costumes, cereal, music, etc.--for the mixed media sculpture--it's all over the map! 

I don't think that I really have any allegiance to any particular set of tools. I use what I need to use in order to say what I want to say! 

Where can we see more of your art? What other places has your work been published? 

I have a book coming out in the summer that will be available on Amazon and my work will be in the next issue of Studio Visit Magazine. I always have some sort of drawing or painting in the books printed by Raven Above Press--and I have even had work in Mad Magazine. I continue to do "Live Painting," and performative work with the awesome folks over at the Seattle Art Museum, alongside fellow muralist Ryan "Henry" Ward and he and I have a few projects set for the future that will definitely get people talking. 

As far as collaborative work goes, look out for at least three performance art performances this year, the first will be a musical love story-- based on Marcel Duchamp's glass and mixed media piece, "The Bride Stripped Bare By Her Bachelor's, Even," and two which are based on characters of mine--the "Dum-Dum Boy" and the "Sorcerer's Apprentice." 

My work is always available at Echo Echo Gallery in the Greenwood Collective-- and online at my terminally "under construction" website at 

What do you see yourself doing in 20 years? 

Honestly--I just want to do more and more of what I am doing--take things to their limits and grow--I want to see where all these directions lead and how they connect and dissect. I used to think that the Pop stuff I have been doing for the last several years where a break for me --that they had nothing to do with the previous work. That is until I actually looked at the older work and saw that all of the same obsessions were there, the same connections, the same tropes and contradictions and that they were all connected through me. It was a transformative realization and one which continues to surprise me --I want to surprise myself continuously and always continue to piss off exactly just the right people! 

If you could work on an art project with anyone in the world from any period in time who would it be? 

I would love to work on a performance with Joseph Beuys--of all the artists throughout history--his is the one that I seem to come back to the most--visually, we share some striking similarities--which is odd--because for both of us the performance work is extremely personal, autobiographical and anecdotal. I'm sure that Beuys himself would say it has something to do with a kind of post-Jungian--artistic collective mind--but all of that is just a little too new agey for me--though I love Beuys for being so out there and for being so willing to go out on a limb for what he believed--no matter what! 

Any last words you would like to say to the Section 8 Magazine readers worldwide? 

Be true to yourself. Even when everything seems to go against you--because that is when you will find out who you truly are. Too Zen? Too “New Agey?” Yeah, you're right--I am nothing if not a jumble of contradictions!



Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Xavier Lopez Performance Art #25: Performance From the Foot of my Bed #1: Dada Death - Song From the Heart. 2020.

Performance From the Foot of my Bed #1: Dada Death - Song From the Heart.

By the time I became aware of Marcel Duchamp as an undergraduate art student at the University of Nevada-Reno, his bones had long disintegrated, but not his memory, which far from being forgotten and obliterated by time and disuse--had turned to gold--he had become what only the best martyrs are allowed (the 1% of martyrs, if you will)--he had achieved sainthood--but then again, perhaps not. Perhaps, as his 1959 sculptural piece "With My Tongue in my Cheek" suggests--perhaps --Duchamp didn't actually give one single shit what we came away from his work with--and maybe that was his greatest strength after--all. Marcel was Dada. All art is Dada and all artists are Dada. But then as Thierry de Duve told me--maybe I am completely missing the point (which is not only possible--but almost certainly likely.)

Whether he went by the name Marcel Duchamp, Rrose Selavy or Richard Mutt--a modernist understanding of authorship and of authorial intent is always very important to any understanding of Marcel Duchamp's oeuvre. Let us look at just a few instances where authorship is central to his work and especially where he very specifically highlights authorship by frustrating it. His character of Rrose Selavy--which features prominently in a series of images and products presents the artist in drag emblazoned with the tag Rrose Selavy (eros c'est la vie--eros is life.) And especially in Fountain, wherein Duchamp signs the--nearly one-of-a kind urinal with the name R. Mutt--are both conspicuous because of the artist's absence--in them, the artist has taken on a character--an impersonation. In Rrose--a very bad drag queen or an unconvincing woman is outrageously played by Duchamp. In the Fountain, however this is taken one giant step further and the artist is missing altogether. But what are we being told by these misperformances of identity? What does it mean when an artist signs his/her work with someone else's name? What does it mean when the artist employs varying levels of misidentification or misdirection of identity. In the Rrose pieces we know that these are Duchamp's artworks because the artist is ultimately there--even if he is in costume, in drag, misidentifying his gender and his identity. But a very interesting thing occurs. Because we see Marcel--because the misdirection is not meant to fool anyone and because it is signed--Rrose becomes an almost translation of the name Marcel Duchamp--a near translation or a badly tuned pronunciation. Almost as if Rrose Selavy is Marcel Duchamp in Russian, Spanish or more likely --as if it means the same thing in the language of art--the language of Dada.

In the Fountain, on the other hand the artist is never present. We only find out that it was made by Duchamp third hand because Duchamp comes to its rescue and then claims the urinal indirectly via a letter he writes in the Dada publication "The Blind Man." Interestingly, it is not even in the letter that Duchamp claims authorship of the sculpture and the letter itself acts as a misdirection of a misdirection. He ultimately, later uses traditionally non-artistic modes in order to claim the fountain--after the fact-- in interviews and conversations--via word of mouth.

It becomes clear that Duchamp is working with issues of authorship and here it is is also important to realize that, while Duchamp will one day lead us all to the ironic stance that will allow many artists to claim a position of non-identity--we have to remember that Duchamp was not a post-modernist, he was a very talented, forward thinking modernist--but a modern all the same. All of these instances of misdirected authorship, of misperformance of identity, whether convoluted and tricky are nonetheless, ultimately meant to lead us back to the artist--in this case, all roads lead us back to Marcel Duchamp.

Before I move on, I want to speak a bit about how authorial intent plays out for the Dadas and for Duchamp in particular in response to Duchamp's best known, masterpiece--the Large Glass (The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelor's, even)--and especially in Duchamp's definition of chance. In the large glass sculpture, Duchamp employs many examples of what he termed "Canned Chance," as he put it--“This experiment was made in 1913 to imprison and preserve forms obtained through chance, through my chance.”

"...Through my chance." This is an amazing sentence--a revelatory and very important distinction and one which is paramount to understanding what the Dada's felt about chance and authorship. The words "my chance" are odd ones because we tend to think of chance as something that occurs to us--outside of us--something over which we have absolutely no control. People often speak of bad luck, or lucky stars--even lucky people have no control over how and when their luck will run out. But for the Dadas and especially Marcel--luck was another tool of the artist--ultimately an extension of authorial intent--luck is always under the control of the artist in a way that was governed by the laws of Dada logic--which was a truly modernist undertaking and could be quite magical. The powers of the author--for the Dadas and later, even for the Surrealists was something, which to us, now, as post-post moderns must at times seem almost ludicrous, fantastical or outlandish--but which nonetheless were considered part of the general powers of an artist like Marcel Duchamp. In fact, similar attitudinal examples can even be seen in the ways that the Abstract Expressionists--especially Jackson Pollack saw themselves and the control of their environments as well. In fact it was this same supra-human authorship and "claiming" of chance that allowed Marcel Duchamp to assert that the Large Glass was finally finished when it came out of storage with a large series of cracks--that would have caused most petulant artists to break down and claim that their work had been ruined by bad luck!

In his talk at SAM, according to de Duve--the most interesting aspect of what Duchamp's work (as exemplified in the urinal) was, is that it meant that everything could be art and that anyone could be an artist. De Duve claims that this is the main idea that the artists of the sixties came away with when they were presented with his work, but I very humbly want to say that this is a misapprehension on the part of de Duve--that the dual ideas that anything can be art and anybody can be an artist were in fact, not the most interesting, most important, longest-lasting aspects of the Frenchman's work--and that this is in fact a misreading of what the work--especially Fountain even had to teach.

Over the years, Duchamp's relationship to Fountain became a complex--at times prickly one. He, himself claimed that artists of the sixties misunderstood the work--and not just Joseph Beuys as de Duve points out. He was quite concerned that his revolutionary act of "Anti-art" would be reintroduced into the realm of the "Retinal"--which he saw as a travesty. For Duchamp, himself--and I argue for the most important artists of the periods that followed him--artists like Jackson Pollock, the artists of Fluxus, all the conceptual artists of the sixties and seventies, Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns, John Cage and Merce Cunningham etc., what Fountain brought us was not the idea that anything could be art--but rather that art had now been forever extricated from the realm of the retinal to the realm of the conceptual. De Duve's misapprehension is mistaking the press's reaction, the popular reaction--the most visceral reaction to Fountain with what practicing artists felt was his most important revelation--and especially with what was the importance of Duchamp's impact on the history of art.

This popular view of Duchamp's oeuvre is sadly the most obvious and superficial layer of what Duchamp's work brought to the world. It is tantamount to Jackson Pollock's being called "Jack the Dripper" and Andy Warhol being called the "Campbell Soup guy." These are all true claims--but they are essentially irrelevant to any actual understanding of each artist's place in history. Duchamp's Fountain does continue to be one of the most important objects and moments in art history--and his work is seminal to all art (even the retinal) that has been made and continues to be made ever since--but the idea that this importance has anything to do with de Duve's syllogism is in itself the product of a formal/formalist and retinal reaction to an object that spoke past that directly to the conceptual--in fact giving birth to an art that exists in and of the mind and which continues to drive formalists absolutely nuts!

It is a misunderstanding of the idea of the urinal--in favor of a formalist understanding of the piece as a sculpture. It is a backward look at something that is looking and moving forward in very much the same way that Duchamp's Nude Descending a Staircase marked the end of Cubism--Mr. Mutt's Fountain was moving art into something completely different--and gave birth to performance art, conceptual art--any art whose basis was thinking before seeing.

What the artists of the sixties took from his urinal--what continues to be Duchamp's most generative gift--and therefor the most important, was his debasement of the retinal from its perch as the highest form of art--in favor of the conceptual. The favoring of the mind over the eye. In fact, this would prove to be far more radical--far more revolutionary than claiming all things to be art (which, in fact, in the final analysis Duchamp never claimed after all)--and in it we find the birth of everything that art is today. It is the break that de Duve is searching for. The Fountain, in the final analysis becomes nothing more than a decoy--on one hand it is something shocking enough to stick in our minds--something to shock us into a new mindset--a slap to the back of our heads, and secondly it is something used to lead us away from what Duchamp--in his guise of a Dadaist--is really attempting--something all the Dadas were working toward. That was the desire to create a space for what linguists call the breakdown in the vraissemblance of any system--it is the creation of an ideological fatigue--wherein art cannot recognize itself. Where it breaks down and something else--something new arises.

Duchamp once complained that he gave us a urinal--basically a pot to piss in and we found the Madonna--or was it the Mona Lisa--The Surrealists knew that if we came to an intersection between a skeleton and an operating table that we would bend over backwards in an effort to contrive a story that we could make sense of--and that is exactly what popular history and de Duve have attempted to do with Fountain.

Duchamp gave us the purest, most minimalist piece of Dada ever created and we contorted logic into every conceivable shape to have it make sense to us again--even searching for a formal answer to something that was only ever meant to be a completely conceptual ghost. Madness--the void--illogic and Dada are like that--they make us pine for the comforting, for the sensical, for the beautiful--it makes complete sense that Surrealism followed Dada--followed Duchamp (who never became a Surrealist--though he always was one) because the mind needs to return to succor and safety after looking too long and too hard at the opposite of art. In the end--perhaps the syllogism of the break between these two eras may actually be more like this: Marcel was Dada. All art is Dada and all artists are Dada--though not all artists are Dadaists. Magic is in the air--but not all artists are magicians (magi chiens.)

Xavier, out.

Xavier Lopez Performance Art #24: Pandaemic Theatre Presents: The Crimson Phantom Presents--Ghost Stories. 2020

Pandaemic Theatre Presents: The Crimson Phantom Presents--Ghost Stories

This one really isn't performance art in the strictest sense, but rather reading a favorite story from childhood during the pandemic. 

Pandaemic Theatre Presents: The Crimson Phantom Presents--Ghost Stories
Robert Bright Ghost Story-Music by Haunted Me.


Friday, September 11, 2020

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Xavier Lopez Performance Art # 22: Performance From the Foot of my bed #2: Return of the Dum Dum Boy: "I'm Dying." 2020.

Perhaps my darkest and most personal performance so far, ressurecting the DUM DUM BOY, a character from my very first performance done way back in the 90's during one of the presentation night of Robert Morrison's Sculpture Class at the University of Nevada, Reno.   The Dum Dum Boy is pure ID with no superego to keep him in check. In this performance the Dum Dum Boy expresses the fear that we are all undergoing at this point in time.

I know that I had been reading about Gilbert and George and I'm pretty sure that I had discovered Joseph Beuys by this point. 

Joseph Beuys inspired sculpture from this same period.  Artistic theory, especially of those who were influenced by Marcel Duchamp was flowing through my work at this point, experimenting more and more with how to express my ideas through language, sculpture and performance!

This sculpture, I think it was called St. George and the Dragon: Christ and Satan, included references to Disney films and a painting lifted from a Gilbert and George book I had at the time. 

This drawing showed plans I have since the 2000's to reintroduce the Dum Dum Boy into my performances.  This one included trying to find a mask that approximated the one that I used at UNR, but which got destroyed making a sculpture in graduate school at UC Davis. 

The original mask from the Dum Dum Boy performance in 1991/2, was turned into this standing sculpture in graduate school. 

This proposal for an especially embarrasing moment for the Dum Dum Boy has yet to be performed.

Logo for the Dum Dum Boy 1992/2020.

Poster for Installation at UNR from April 1995.

Comparison between 1992 and 2020 Dum Dums.

Alternate, unmasked Dum Dum Boy.

Standing Dum Dum Boy 2020.

Close-up of Dum Dum Boy version 1 2020.

Scene from Performance From the Foot of my bed #2: Return of the Dum Dum Boy: "I'm Dying."

Scene from Performance From the Foot of my bed #2: Return of the Dum Dum Boy: "I'm Dying."

Planning notes for 2020 performance.

Like many performances this one ended up being a mix of more than one idea.  In this case the Dum Dum Boy mixed with another performance "I'm Dying," in which I was to repeat those words over and over, but which initially had nothing to do with the Dum Dum Boy. 

Performance From the Foot of my bed #2: Return of the Dum Dum Boy: "I'm Dying."

Monday, September 7, 2020

Xavier Lopez Performance #21C: Part 3 - Oracion Al Borde del Apocalipsis (Prayer at the Edge of Apocalypse.) 2019. Featuring Christina Montilla.


Performance at King Street Station: 

Oracion al Borde del Apocalipsis 

Gus was a Mexican Ghost/Ghost Walk/Prayer at the Edge of the Apocvalypse 

December 5th, 2019

The performance “Oracion al Borde del Apocalipsis” ( Prayer at the Edge of the Apocalypse) begins with a pre-performance piece entitled “Gus Was a Mexican Ghost,” which is a children’s book from the 1970’s about a ghost, who goes to Mexico. The book was one of my favorites as a child. This performance is an extended prayer for all of those that have migrated to this country or whose descendants travelled to these lands from somewhere else, which is to say everyone but this land’s indigenous peoples—everyone else is a guest here. This is a performance that deals directly with the looming threat that many immigrants to our country and perhaps all “people of colors” (my term, chosen because it speaks to all the different colors that we are,) feel acutely, today, in the “land of the free.”

Xavier Lopez is a contemporary, Latino/x, conceptual, mixed media artist. Lopez received his MFA from the University of California, Davis, where he created the theoretical/artistic thesis of the "Soft Cyborg" and the Latinx artistic form of “Putoh,” which takes Butoh as its inspiration. As a "Post-Pop Artist," he is part of a young group of artists who are seeking to move beyond contemporary mainstream ideas, becoming post genre, mixing sculpture, performance art, theory, painting and anything else they can get their hands on to create something exciting and new. In 2016, allied with La Sala--a leading Latino Arts organization in Seattle, Washington, Xavier Lopez and Lauren Davis put together the very first Latinx Performance Art Festival. (The sequel is planned for June 2020, here at King Street Station.) In 2017, Xavier Lopez was cited in the Routledge critical theoretical textbook "Performance; A Critical Introduction--by Marvin Carlson, Third Edition, as a leading voice in the Latinx Performance Art movement, something for which he is extremely proud. 

Lopez is part of a new breed of Latinx artists for whom art-making, while still personal and autobiographical in the broadest sense, eschews the obvious tropes of masculinity, hegemony and race with very little regard for the overbearing visual, cultural history that has proven to be overpowering for so many artists of this age. Instead, as an Hispanic artist, it has become clear to Lopez over the course of his thirty-plus year career that his work has focused on a more personal kind of conceptualism, centering on autobiography and his own set of obsessions, hopes and fears.

Lopez has shown artwork on both American coasts as well as in Germany, England and France, and he has come to be known for his own brand of lush, conceptual, post post-modern sculpture, especially his "sheet ghost" installations, flower Rorschachs, tin foil mountains and performance art.

As a child in the seventies, before Lopez even knew what art was, his father was in the Chicano Art Movement in Los Angeles and the younger Lopez would tag along to the "Mechicano" Art Centers of Southern California mentally devouring the exciting scenes of Chicano artists making political and historical work, expressing first-hand what it meant to be a "Chicano" in the seventies. Days would pass as he watched his father paint murals, all the while, day-dreaming of his own future. Lopez' parents often took their three children to the Los Angeles Museum of Art, where he saw Warhol's Brillo Boxes, his first conceptual sculptures and Joseph Beuys’ performances.

It was also at university that he began to notice a big difference between how his heroes made art and how he was expected to make art. When a Duchamp or a Beuys made their work it was about ideas, it was about their ideas and it reflected the way that they saw the world. With this realization, Lopez decided that he would take a stand and make art that came from his own personal experiences, that he would make work that was unique to his own, singular viewpoint and that above all else it would be art that was about ideas. From then on Lopez sought to make his own way as an individual artist, seeking to express his own view of the universe and to speak of his own personal issues, obsessions and desires. This has become a very important stance of liberation, which in and of itself is powerful and revolutionary.


Lopez career is a journey and a complex intellectual investigation--at the same time, however, it is not a refutation of difference, history or culture--as that is also a very important part of Lopez' (hi(s)tory--rather, Lopez work is about those areas where we come together, aware that we are not post-race and that his work is not either.

As an artist, Lopez' career has been multivalent, mixing sculpture, performance art, theory and painting, creating a body of work that is experimental and fierce--with the power of a slap to the back of the head. Lopez has been part of several high-profile art events at the Seattle Art Museum, 4Culture, Artist Trust, Seattle Arts & Culture and most recently he has worked with the Seattle LatinX organization "La Sala" for their "La Cocina" project where he put together and performed in the first ever night of all LatinX performance art. He is a recipient of the prestigious 2016 Artist Up Grant Lab Award as well as several other grants, fellowships and commissions from various American cities.

Xavier Lopez Jr. 

Music by D. Alexis Lopez 

Featuring Christina Montilla

Performance: December 5th 2019

3:00 Xavier arrives at the space to make sure everything is fine, to do soundcheck, etc.

5:00 Alexis and Christina arrive

6:00 pre-show set-up begins—we bring out props, etc.

6:45 Xavier and Christina walk to their stages, both dressed as ghosts. Christina is dressed as a pink ghost carrying the children’s book, “Gus was a Mexican Ghost.” She walks up very slowly to the chair/rocking chair and sits down and rocks slowly back and forth, whispering undiscernible words that sound like the remnants of memories gone by—every once in a while you can make out the words “Agelito de mi guarda, de mi dulce compania.”

At the same time, I walk up to the second stage space surrounded by luggage and begin to play with toys—the scene is very reminiscent of a mother and child enjoying time together.

7:00-7:05 Alexis’ music begins and I put away the toys and tie the luggage together and carry them over my shoulder and Christina picks up the rocking chair and slowly walks toward the green room.

7:05-7:12 The music changes and I kneel walk around the gallery space and head back to the space that was once occupied by Christina and the rocking chair—but they are gone. This whole time I have been whispering, “Angelito de mi guarda,” 

7:12-end: The music becomes a little faster, more like a chant as I pull out candles and place them in a circle around me, followed by the toys that I was playing with earlier and finally the circle/border is completed by flowers as I place each flower I am saying “Angelita de mi guarda” and slowly, more of the prayer comes out and I begin chanting it and Christina, now a part of the audience begins to chant it again and hopefully others will join us, as we approach a kind of crescendo, I begin to toss the flowers in the air, symbolically destroying the border, then collapse on the ground—the end of the performance. 

Performance at King Street Station: 

Oracion al Borde del Apocalipsis 

Gus/Ghost Walk/Prayer 

December 5th, 2019

The performance “Oracion al Borde del Apocalipsis” ( Prayer at the Edge of the Apocalypse) begins with a pre-performance piece entitled “Gus Was a Mexican Ghost,” which is a children’s book from the 1970’s about a ghost in a sheet, who goes to Mexico and then believes that he can become a “Mexican Ghost” simply by adopting the clothes and customs of Mexico. The book was one of my favorites as a child, though, it is, of course a good-natured, liberal attempt at inclusivity, which fails due to unperceived biases and invisible assumptions arising from the author’s own position of privilege. But for this performance the audience need only understand that there is only one way for a Mexican to become a ghost. This is a piece that deals directly with the looming threat that many immigrants to our country and perhaps all people of colors (my term, chosen because it speaks to all the different colors that we are, and takes away the primacy of white vs. all else,) who live in America are being threatened with today in the “land of the free.”

In this pre-performance—I walk out half-an-hour before the main performance to a pre-chosen spot of the KSS will already have a rocking chair and two pieces of luggage. I sit in the rocking chair reading the book until, the house lights go down…

Ghost Walk:… and a musical piece created by my brother comes on, creating a theatrical space. I put down the book, pick up the two pieces of luggage and walk the perimeter of the space-this is the second part of the performance, entitled “Ghost Walk.” This segment is dedicated to and refers to all those that have come to our country, seeking the promise of safety, security and freedom, carrying everything they own with them, braving all of their fears, filled with hope and promise.


The Prayer: At a predetermined spot, easily watched by everyone, the prayer begins. Symbolizing the prison that many have been placed into under the Trump administration, I, still dressed as a ghost, open up the two containers filled with candles, flowers and toys and create a border around me. The performance ends when I kneel in the middle of the circle and say a silent prayer based on the prayers that my mother taught me in Spanish and English when I was a small child.

What I would need from KSS, is the two spaces that will be used for performance, the ability to have someone dim the house lights during performance, someone to play the pre-recorded music, created by my brother to be put on CD (either overhead through KSS speakers or I have stereo players) and the okay to light up 14 candles on bases to represent the 14 States in America that are holding 10,000 immigrant children in 100 shelters.

For the pre
Description of entire :
Pre-performance: Gus was a Mexican Ghost
Ghost costume, 2 pieces of luggage

Performance at King Street Station: 

Oracion al Borde del Apocalipsis 

Gus was a Mexican Ghost/Ghost Walk/Prayer at the Edge of the Apocvalypse 

December 5th, 2019

Xavier Lopez, Oración al Borde del Apocalipsis, December 5, 2019, Seattle, Washington
December 7, 2019
Alum Xavier Lopez (MFA 1998) performed “Oración al Borde del Apocalipsis” (Prayer at the Edge of Apocalypse) in the exhibition ”Brighter Future: To be heard. To be seen. To be free” at the ARTS at King Street Station in Seattle on December 5.

Lopez, along with fellow artist Lauren Davis, is also collaborating on the Latinx Performance Art Festival in Seattle with La Sala, a Seattle based Latino Arts organization.