On February 19, 1997, wearing only Timberland boots and a skirt made of dollar bills, Pope.L chained himself with a string of sausages to the entrance of a bank on Forty-Second Street near Grand Central Station. Intending to hand out cash to the bank’s customers, the artist attracted a bewildered crowd and was quickly confronted by a police officer who identified him as an “EDP” (code for “Emotionally Disturbed Person”).
The impetus for the performance was a law passed in New York City the year prior, prohibiting panhandling within ten feet of an ATM. Part of Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s “quality of life” campaign, the law contributed to the growing criminalization of the city’s poor and people of color. In ATM Piece, Pope.L mocks this policy by posing as a street person who, rather than begging, offers money to middle-class passersby. Ironically evoking the protest tactic of lock-on, he substitutes greasy meat links for metal chains.
The artist described this performance as “an attempt to bring fresh discomfort to an age-old problem: the haves and the have nots and what they have to do with each other.”
Gallery label from October 21, 2019–February 1, 2020