Pope.L Aunt Jenny Chronicles 1991

Shaving cream, an electric guitar, a tarred-and-feathered watermelon, and the spoken word are among the miscellaneous components of the theater-based work Aunt Jenny Chronicles, which Pope.L performed at various experimental venues in New York City. The central monologue, excerpted in this video, is based on Pope.L’s childhood relationship with his Aunt Jenny, whom he remembers as a 114-year-old “friend, grandmother, and great, great ancestor all rolled into one.”

Autobiography becomes material and metaphor in Pope.L’s rhythmic script, which is peppered with raw anecdotes and reflections on feelings of shame, alienation, and admiration that characterize the artist’s evolving attitude toward his relatives. Through the figure of Aunt Jenny, Pope.L references both private and cultural histories, from the Freedom Rides and race riots of the civil rights era to the black patriarchy modeled by The Cosby Show. Excavating the complex family dynamics of his youth, Pope.L meditates on gender roles, generational rifts, and his conflicted memories of Aunt Jenny, depicted as a mythological matriarch from the Old South.

Gallery label from October 21, 2019–February 1, 2020
Video (color, sound; 3:04 min.); five inkjet prints; plastic and metal music stand; cotton button down shirt; and cotton sleeveless shirt with drawing
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
Object number
© 2020 Pope.L. Courtesy of the artist.
Media and Performance
Research in progress; information about this work may be incomplete.

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