member: Pope. L, 1978-2001

Pope.L (American, born 1955). _How Much Is That Nigger in the Window a.k.a. Tompkins Square Crawl, Tompkins Square Park, New York_. 1991. Inkjet print, 10 × 15" (25.4 × 38.1 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Acquired in part through the generosity of Jill and Peter Kraus, Anne and Joel S. Ehrenkranz, The Contemporary Arts Council of The Museum of Modern Art, The Jill and Peter Kraus Media and Performance Acquisition Fund, and Jill and Peter Kraus in honor of Michael Lynne. © Pope.L, courtesy the artist

Pope.L. Tompkins Square Crawl. 1991 346

Pope.L (American, born 1955). How Much Is That Nigger in the Window a.k.a. Tompkins Square Crawl, Tompkins Square Park, New York. 1991. Inkjet print, 10 × 15" (25.4 × 38.1 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Acquired in part through the generosity of Jill and Peter Kraus, Anne and Joel S. Ehrenkranz, The Contemporary Arts Council of The Museum of Modern Art, The Jill and Peter Kraus Media and Performance Acquisition Fund, and Jill and Peter Kraus in honor of Michael Lynne. © Pope.L, courtesy the artist

Pope.L: In performing, it's all about your choices. You know, how are you going to be in the scene? And I think that's partly why I constructed myself with a partner, a prop partner. I decided to have a flower--not a fake flower, but a real one. And I had to figure out how do you keep a flower in one piece throughout a crawl. That was a really interesting challenge.

I think there's a corniness to flowers that is really helpful. I mean, I knew I wanted to speak to people who may know nothing about art, but they know what flowers are. And they know what crawling is. And they know at least if you were watching me on that day, you'd know, well, it's fucking hot and in New York the street bakes. So a lot of that temperature is in the actual asphalt. And so it just comes at you. So I wanted that to come across visually to someone who was maybe 30 or 40 yards from me. I wanted them to apprehend the difficulty of the assignment, of the choice.

The street situation put me in a circumstance where I had to adjust to whatever was there. No matter where I did crawls of that nature, I had people yelling at me and spitting on me. They seemed to always do this thing. You see a person--a black person in the street with a suit--it seemed to set black people off especially. I think it's a very hurtful sign to see that I had given up. Or that I was showing this, this weakness.

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