Artist Spotlight: MPA

Artist Visit by Chela Simón-Trench for Discover LA August 3, 2023

MPA is a contemporary artist working in installation art and various modes of performance that examine behaviors of power. View her latest tongue-in-cheek commentary, “Series Collapsed” at Night Gallery. Upon entry, you are confronted with a not-so-innocent pile of rocks. At first glance, it's shaped like an infinity sign, then the piece breaks away with a leg busting out of it. Through the exhibit, a taxidermy bird suspended on a rod jutting out of the gallery wall plays witness to an animated rope snaking up from the ground. All under the critical watch of a glistening eye made from iPhone screenshot palindromes. What does it all mean? The artist playfully engages with themes like behaviors of power, land politics, species collapse, cycles of violence in our society, the pandemic, all food for thought.

MPA at her Night Gallery show.

MPA's ultimate material is energy. Even when exhibiting static objects, her artworks are always alive and performing: “I look at every install of work through theatricality. I always want things to perform. The rope snake is performing for you, the rocks are alive, this palindrome eye is glistening– I want to install shows that feel active. I’m still an actor at my core, somehow, even as an artist.” MPA’s artworks covertly engage your senses and create curiosity amidst a society that overwhelms and dulls sensation with violent legacies of control.

Artwork from Series Collapsed.

MPA engages with themes of the cosmic, the apocalyptic, the otherworldly. She has been coming to LA as an artist since the early 2000s: “LA has meant a lot of different things to me at different times. LA as a city for an artist…the biggest stand out is its light and space. The influence of Southern California and LA specifically on my work has been around something cosmic, even new age– the way that those ideas are more welcomed and even propagated here than in other cities like New York, Paris, or London. As a queer person, LA had an incredibly validating underground club scene that meant life licenses to many of my friends and to myself.” She also thinks about the politics that are just beneath the surface of each piece of sunbathed Southern California land, asking questions like, “What does it mean to be a borrower, or a visitor to the lands that feed us rather than a conqueror?”  Although a bustling, entertainment and art driven metropolis, LA’s proximity to the ocean washes the city in a sense of calm, healing connection to water. MPA says, “Even though I don’t live on the West side, I do go to the ocean often for the idea that the waves will cleanse me.”

Rocks form the recurring symbol in "Series Collapsed."
Installation view of "Series Collapsed."

MPA’s practice combines serious concern for our world with a sense of humor and playfulness. The broken infinity symbol in “Series Collapsed” both represents the re-imagining of social structures and violent cycles, and also resembles a butt. A part of the artist’s mission to ignite something in the audience, MPA arrives into these performative, playful moments as a triumph and relief amidst the heavy, serious topics on her mind.

MPA at Night Gallery.
Artist Visit August 3, 2023
Artist Visit August 3, 2023
Artist Visit June 23, 2021