Caracas-born artist Pepe López has shipped 200 of his family’s household items to London, installing them within the gilt confines of Fitzrovia Chapel.
Each object in the artwork – named Crisálida (or ‘chrysalis’) – is wrapped in film and meticulously arranged in the ornate space, as if awaiting its next shipment. Just visible beneath the polyethylene is everything from a telephone and a bicycle to statues of Venezuelan liberator Simón Bolívar and goddess María Lionza. These figures once guarded the entrance of López’s family home before he was forced to flee to Paris to escape the country’s political turmoil.
‘These objects don’t have economic value, they just have personal memories attached to them,’ says López. ‘Memories and everyday life are what’s sacred now.’
Crisálida is the inaugural exhibition of Ruya Maps, a non-profit, nomadic gallery that aims to spotlight culture generated from political discord, encouraging a global understanding. ‘When we talk about displacement and movement of people, it’s somehow reduced – it’s just a term, often associated with negative elements – but it’s much deeper and more emotional than that,’ says Ruya Maps director Tamara Chalabi. ‘Pepe’s project is archival and inventory-like on the one hand, but it’s also extremely personal. The objects, wrapped in film, have undergone a transformation – a change that’s both positive and negative.’
López’s notion of ‘home’ has had to shift since leaving Caracas, where the instability endangers all stratas of society. ‘Although I’m very happy where I am, whether in London or Paris, I always think about Venezuela,’ he says. ‘But the Venezuela that I left is not the Venezuela of now. I was living in a different country, so I have had to learn that “home” is a concept, a noun that you need to transform.’
‘Pepe López: Crisálida’ will run 15 October – 26 October 2018 at The Fitzrovia Chapel, Fitzroy Place, 2 Pearson Square London W1T 3BF.