Franconia Sculpture Park attracts impressive Fellowship Artists, but we’ve never had the pleasure of working with a PhD in Nueroscience. Before his foray in to the art world, Pablo Garcia Lopez completed his PhD at the Cajal Institute in Madrid, Spain, and to this day his artistic practice is heavily influenced by scientific research and theory. Pablo is specifically inspired by the philosophical concept of “mechanism,” or the belief that living things are like complicated machines composed of parts lacking any intrinsic relationship to each other. Following this logic, the source of a thing’s activities is not the whole itself, but its parts, or an external influence on the parts. In The fragmentation and mechanization of the body, a work in progress now installed at Franconia, Pablo applies the concept of mechanism by repurposing distinct materials used in ductwork, plumbing and sprinkler systems to accentuate the viscera extruding from classically-inspired segments of the human body, communicating a feeling of discord between the parts and the whole.
When you’re making sculpture, what is your creative process like? What path does your work take between the inkling of an idea and finished project?
It is very organic, improvised and different each time. It depends on different factors: whether the sculpture is inside or outside, self contained or an installation and what the materials, narrative, spectator interaction, and budget are like. I put all these factors in a mixing machine and then I form a mental map of what I want to create.
What inspired your project at Franconia this summer? How does it relate to your past work?
The inspiration comes from the philosophical concept of mechanism, which states that “the natural wholes (principally living things) are like complicated machines or artifacts, composed of parts lacking any intrinsic relationship to each other. Thus, the source of an apparent thing’s activities is not the whole itself, but its parts or an external influence on the parts.” It requires the division into parts and the mechanization of each part. I used this definition in a literal and satirical way to make The fragmentation and mechanization of the body. I am interested in the ways concepts of organicism and mechanism are applied to natural beings. My work antagonizes the main scientific, social and political paradigms of today.
Why did you propose your project to Franconia and what did the experience of working here offer you?
I proposed this project to Franconia because the sculpture needed to be big and displayed outdoors. My experience at Franconia was very beautiful and calming. I worked closely with Intern Artists Rebecca Hoffman, Sutton Demlong, Sierra Rasco and Christina Cooper to make this sculpture. Staff members Claire Barber, Carissa Samaniego, Hugh Bryant, Jason Bord, John Hock, and Arts Administration Intern Rachele Krivichi were all very supportive and helpful. I also enjoyed the natural landscape and awesome meals.
What other residencies have you participated in, and how do those experiences compare to your time at Franconia?
This was my first residency.
Where did you study and whom did you study with? How have those experiences influenced your work?
I completed my PhD in Neuroscience in the Cajal Institute in Madrid where I studied the work of one of my idols, Santiago Ramon y Cajal. I have also been a visiting scholar at School of Visual Arts where I had a wonderful experience working with Suzanne Anker. I completed my MFA at Maryland Institute of Contemporary Art in 2012 and during my time there I was inspired by peers such as Chakaia Booker and Maren Hassinger.
Who (or what) are your greatest inspirations as an artist?
Santiago Ramon y Cajal and many musicians, including John Zorn, Marc Ribot, Neil Young, Moondog, Psychic TV, and Coil, all of which I listen to while I work. I admire them because the importance of their work, free spirits, creativity and willingness to ask questions of their work.
What do you consider the most important work of art in the world?
Impossible to answer. But I will say two cities; Granada and Firenze.