Referring to himself as “a fisherman of social absurdity,” Pope.L has developed a body of work that poses provocative questions about a culture consumed with success yet riven by social, racial, and economic conflict. Resisting easy categorization, his career encompasses theatrical performances, street actions, language, painting, video, drawing, installation, and sculpture. Pope.L’s work explores the fraught connection between prosperity and what he calls “have-not-ness.” This tension is heightened by the presentation of these subversive artworks within a major art museum.
member: Pope.L, 1978–2001 focuses on a group of landmark performances that have defined the artist as a consummate agitator and humorist who has used his body to examine division and inequality on the streets and stages of New York City and in the more rustic environs of Maine, where he taught for 20 years.
The title member ponders the terms and stakes of membership for a provocateur who constantly strives “to reinvent what’s beneath us, to remind us where we all come from,” making material out of categories of race, gender, and citizenship that are intimately entwined.
Organized by Stuart Comer, The Lonti Ebers Chief Curator of Media and Performance, Department of Media and Performance, with Danielle A. Jackson, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Media and Performance. Performances produced by Lizzie Gorfaine, Producer, with Beatrice Johnson, Assistant Performance Coordinator, Performance and Live Programs.
MoMA’s presentation is part of Pope.L: Instigation, Aspiration, Perspiration, a trio of complementary exhibitions organized by MoMA, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and Public Art Fund.