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Pope.L: Fisherman of Social Absurdity
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Pope.L: Fisherman of Social Absurdity
Glasstire February 16, 2024

“When I say Blackness is a lack worth having, I am speaking to the dynamic of pain, loss, joy, radicality, and possibility in the experience of being Black. Blackness, if it is anything interesting, has to be determined by and implicated into much more than itself. The true nature of Blackness is multiplicity, not this or that. This aspect of Blackness is not limited to black and belongs to all things we try to name, and will always escape final definition. But the process of coming to terms with no final resolution is a lack worth having.” Artist Pope.L died December 23 at the age of 68, at his home in Chicago. Upon hearing the news, I wrote to several close artist friends to reminisce over some of our favorite Pope.L artworks. He had been a constant influence, and we mourned the loss of a critical mind and unique voice. I met Pope.L in Baltimore, when I was a finalist in an exhibition he had juried. Having a conversation with him about the artwork I was making in the streets of Washington, D.C., after the September 11 attacks and during the era of the USA PATRIOT Act, was an insightful and affirming experience.

Pope.L: The trickster-artist offered crucial lessons as to what was and was not real
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Pope.L: The trickster-artist offered crucial lessons as to what was and was not real
Art in America February 15, 2024

On the 8th floor of the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Tom and Diane Tuft Trustee Room - a minimalist wood-paneled chamber in a Renzo Piano-designed building - offers a stunning view north, toward the Hudson River, the High Line, and the Standard Hotel. It was here, one October evening in 2017, that I watched as Pope.L received the Bucksbaum Award for his contribution to the 2017 Whitney Biennial, an exhibition I curated with Mia Locks. For each Whitney Biennial since 2000, one featured artist has received this award for their potential to make a lasting impact on American art, and it's safe to say Pope.L has done just that. Adam Weinberg, then director of the museum, spoke about Pope.L's uncompromising dedication to his art and his important critique of society before presenting him the award, a thick slab of acrylic engraved Pope.L The Bucksbaum Award 2017. Dressed in a baseball cap and black Carhartt work jacket, Pope.L gamely accepted it and posed for pictures, leaning back with his right arm up as if pitching a curve ball into the crowd.

Inside the Church of Pope.L: How the Iconic Artist’s Death Affected his Friends and Disciples
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Inside the Church of Pope.L: How the Iconic Artist’s Death Affected his Friends and Disciples
New City Art February 7, 2024

When the American artist Pope.L died late last December, he was remembered and celebrated around the world, with extensive looks back at his life and work in the New York Times, the Guardian and Artforum. In Chicago, the news hit especially hard. “He was profoundly invested in the lives of his students and his colleagues and his close friends here,” says artist Theaster Gates. “Through his teaching and through his friendships and mentorship and extended paternalism—in the best way—he was a father to a lot of people in the arts.” After teaching for two decades at Bates College in Maine, Pope.L came to Chicago in 2012. To Gates, his arrival was a herald. “It was part of the thing that for me started to make Chicago one of the great anchors for contemporary visual art.” Pope.L was a tenured professor in the Department of Visual Arts (DOVA) at the University of Chicago. The community there is small and tight-knit. Many of the faculty have come of age alongside one another, as artists and teachers and parents. Pope.L, who was a decade or more older than most of them, “changed the pH of the department,” according to Gates.

Bodies, woven myths focus of UAlbany art exhibits
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Bodies, woven myths focus of UAlbany art exhibits
Times Union February 2, 2024

In the light of an afternoon snowstorm, rays of blue, red and yellow peek through the downstairs window of the University Art Museum, transforming the simple vinyl pixels into something spiritual. One floor up, the simple act of crawling reveals complex systems of oppression through the work of Pope.L, overwhelming a college student encountering the late performance artist’s work for the first time. In a trio by Keltie Ferris, he plays with the idea of a “body of work” and the physical body by using his own as a stamp. Kate Gilmore pushes woven baskets filled with green paint up a ramp in a 30-minute looped video titled “A Tisket, A Tasket,” playing with ideas of women’s work. A series of photographs of Pope.L, who died Dec. 23, 2023, captures “Times Square Crawl a.k.a. Meditation Square Pieces,” one of the artist’s 40 endurance crawls for his series “eRacism,” which he began in the late 1970s to magnify systems of inequity. “Pope.L was one of the first artists we were thinking about for the exhibition” said Robert Shane, associate director. “(This series) is a disruption of how one normally moves or behaves in this space … There’s a political impetus to the work.”

Even after his passing, Pope.L’s work is ‘still north of the future.’
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Even after his passing, Pope.L’s work is ‘still north of the future.’
WBEZ Chicago February 1, 2024

The legendary performance artist Pope.L died in December 2023 at 68, and many of his contemporaries agree it will take years to unpack his work and its influence—if that is even possible. “At the basis of the work, I would say, is a riddle,” said curator Hamza Walker, the director of LAXART. “He was always full of questions.” Walker first met Pope.L in the early aughts and said he found his work both confounding and brilliant. We could dedicate a whole podcast to understanding Pope.L’s work, so in this episode, host Erin Allen talks to Walker to scratch the surface on Pope.L’s life and legacy.

Pope. L: Afterlife
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Pope. L: Afterlife
ArtReview February 1, 2024

Abjection and disaster become a bleak sort of comedy in the hands of Pope. L. Hospital, the American artist’s first solo institutional show in the UK, should have been a (long overdue) celebration of this maverick figure. But the artist’s sudden death in late December now makes his work’s sculptural emphasis on human presence all the more charged, its humour another shade darker. ‘Hospital’, Pope. L suggests in the exhibition notes, has its root in the Latin for ‘stranger, foreigner, guest’. There is a lot of physical debility on show here – leaky fluids, bowels, intoxication – but the theme seems to expand here into something bigger, about the disempowering effect of institutions, or of being institutionalised. Everything about the work obfuscates, obscures and rebuffs, pointing us outwards to the gallery’s context, to the ‘artworld’ and its etiquettes and protocols, its power in managing the patient known as ‘the artist’; who, in this case, has nevertheless checked out too early.

In London, Pope.L Leaves a Lasting Message
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In London, Pope.L Leaves a Lasting Message
Ocula January 25, 2024

An installation taking over South London Gallery's main exhibition space by Pope.L, known for confronting the racial and social inequalities shaping American society, emphasises a profound absence. White wooden scaffolding mimicking a collapsing tower is crowned at its 18-foot peak by a toilet that appears to have ejected its sitter. There are newspapers everywhere; mostly editions of the title that prompted the creation of the work in the first place. Conceived after seeing an ad for The Wall Street Journal insinuating fortune for its subscribers, Eating the Wall Street Journal refers to a performance Pope.L staged at MoMA, New York, in 2000. Over five days, Pope.L wore a jockstrap, covered himself in flour, and sat atop his latrine tower, tearing the newspaper up and chewing on pieces doused with milk and ketchup. Pope.L has since called iterations of the work part of a titular family. This 2023 version was created for the artist's solo show Hospital (21 November 2023–11 February 2024), as a performance without a body, where 'the material is performing.'

MOCA LA Acquired 100 New Works in 2023, Including a Mark Bradford Painting from Brad Pitt
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MOCA LA Acquired 100 New Works in 2023, Including a Mark Bradford Painting from Brad Pitt
ARTnews January 24, 2024

The Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles acquired 100 artworks by 63 artists during 2023 for its permanent collection of nearly 8,000 objects. The acquisitions range from works by blue-chip artists like Ellsworth Kelly (five lithographs), Anselm Kiefer (two mixed-media works), Jeff Koons (one sculpture), and Raymond Pettibon (nine drawings) to ones by rising artists like Diane Severin Nguyen (five C-prints), Aria Dean (a 3D-printed sculpture), Kahlil Robert Irving (one ceramic), and Rachel Jones (a 8.5-foot-long painting). Among the more sprawling works that were purchased are the late artist Pope.L’s massive waving American flag, Trinket (2015) and Jacolby Satterwhite’s Reifying Desire 7 – Dawn (2021–22), which comprises a two-channel video, a video game, 53 ink-and-marker drawings on paper, and vinyl wallpaper. An untitled 2020 bronze sculpture by Henry Taylor was acquired from the artist’s survey that was organized by MOCA and is now in its final week at the Whitney Museum.

Making Ways: André Lepecki on The Great White Way: 22 Miles, 9 Years, 1 Street
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Making Ways: André Lepecki on The Great White Way: 22 Miles, 9 Years, 1 Street
MoMA Magazine January 24, 2024

Renowned as the “Friendliest Black Artist in America©”, Pope.L infamously proclaimed that “the Black body is a lack worth having.” In the wake of his unexpected passing on December 23, 2023, the weight of this phrase takes on added complexity. Pope.L’s active, living body was a central instrument in a broad range of grueling, provocative, and profound actions that helped to define an influential career spanning almost five decades. His work took to the streets and to the stage with performances that directly, indelibly engaged the specters of cruel histories in the present moment, actively stirring up the social absurdities they have produced. To mark his extraordinary life, the video for Pope.L’s performance The Great White Way: 22 miles, 9 years, 1 street (2001–09) is now on view at MoMA. This video documents a multipart performance during which the artist dragged his body along the entire length of Broadway, dressed in a capeless Superman costume and knit cap with a skateboard strapped to his back, and crawled for as long as he could.

The Best Shows to See in the UK This Winter
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The Best Shows to See in the UK This Winter
Frieze January 19, 2024

I first heard about Pope.L’s work at the 2002 Whitney Biennial, where he had recently embarked on the multi-year performance, The Great White Way (2001–09). It was a confounding spectacle: a Black man crawling down Broadway in a Superman costume with a skateboard strapped to his back. I subsequently had the opportunity to hang out with him a few times. Conversations with Pope.L were just as confounding as his work. His words were thought-provoking yet funny, the sound of his laugh often formed an intrinsic part of any debate. My last encounter with his art was ‘Impossible Failures’, a joint exhibition with Gordon Matta-Clark at 52 Walker, New York, last year – an aptly titled show for an artist who was dedicated to experimentation no matter the outcome. I was amazed, as I have been with so much of Pope.L’s work, by what he was able to do with the simplest of materials: Vigilance a.k.a. Dust Room (2023), for instance, employed simple Home Depot products to create a magical scene in which Styrofoam flew around like snow in a blue, wintery light. Ever the trickster, he ensured the piece could be seen only through a small window cut into the side of a dumpster. I could have watched it for eternity. I will greatly miss Pope.L and his startling work.

Remembering Pope.L (1955–2023)
Press
Remembering Pope.L (1955–2023)
Frieze January 19, 2024

The artist professionally known as Pope.L was born on a Tuesday in June 1955 to Lucille Lancaster. He was her second child, and she gave him his father’s name: William Pope. It was a typical summer day in Newark, New Jersey, and the papers would hardly cover anything notable. Surely, then, this birth was the memorable thing: a singular event, the beginning of a storied life and career that would impact generations of artists. If you had the pleasure of knowing Pope.L personally, as I did, you may still hear his melodic laugh bolstered by a wide smile.You may see his hunched gait and his uniform: straight-legged dungarees, a bookbag and a baseball cap with his coiled greying hair jutting out from underneath. You most certainly will remember his generosity, the way his answers were more like prompts, how clear he was on his priorities. And, more than anything, you’ll have pocketfuls of stories, many of which you’ll choose to hold close. How do you measure the life of an immeasurable man? I believe it’s with the memories that are left behind. Here are some of those thoughts. –Courtney Willis Blair 

William Pope.L: ‘There should be a porosity to the work when you’re building it, envisioning it’
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William Pope.L: ‘There should be a porosity to the work when you’re building it, envisioning it’
Studio International January 17, 2024

I didn’t know what to expect as I pushed my way through the red plastic “butcher’s shop” strips obscuring the South London Gallery’s traditional exhibition space. But collapsing timber towers, a soundtrack of sifting and creaking noises, trampled orange magnolias and leaking fluids that reeked of intoxication and sterilisation, added a unique atmosphere and texture to the exhibition, enhanced by the presence of the artist himself, William Pope.L. At the press preview in November, Pope.L conversed freely with the gallery’s director, Margot Heller, and attending journalists and critics. Dressed casually in layered chequered shirts over jeans with a felted-wool baseball cap covering his greying locks, he sipped coffee from a paper cup, relaxed and at ease. When Heller said he had once described himself as “the friendliest black artist in America”, he quipped: “That was a long time ago. I’m more bitter now. I’ve lost my sheen.” This kind of dark, dry humour, combined with playfulness, a strong sense of the surreal and a willingness to delve into the bleakest of places, typified the life and practice of the artist who established himself with a series of “crawls”.

Pope.L obituary
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Pope.L obituary
The Guardian January 15, 2024

One morning in 1978, passersby along the less salubrious end of West 42nd Street in New York were met with a curious sight. A young man dressed smartly in a pinstripe suit fell to his hands and knees and began to crawl along the dirty pavement, not letting up until he reached Times Square. It was the first of more than 30 “crawls” by the artist Pope.L, who has died unexpectedly aged 68. In a city beset with homelessness, it was an act of solidarity to lose his “verticality”, the artist said, the suit a symbol of power. “We’d gotten used to people begging, and I was wondering, how can I renew this conflict? I don’t want to get used to seeing this. I wanted people to have this reminder.” Born in Newark, New Jersey, he was the son of Lucille Lancaster, a nurse, and William Pope, who soon disappeared from his life. His artist moniker, initially William Pope.L until he dropped his first name in 2012, combined his parents’ surnames. “My family was very poetic. We would be hanging out on a Sunday and my uncle and my aunt would come over and we would be in the kitchen and they would start throwing about poetry from Langston Hughes and Gwendolyn Brooks,” he recalled.

Long Live Pope.L, the Friendliest Black Artist in America
Press
Long Live Pope.L, the Friendliest Black Artist in America
Los Angeles Review of Books January 12, 2024

Toward the end of his life, the performance artist Pope.L became preoccupied with holes. No, that isn’t quite right. Toward the end of his life, Pope.L returned to holes, which had long interested him. Or, better still: Toward the end of his life, the holes around which Pope.L always orbited rose again to the surface. For Pope.L’s thoughts on the hole, we might turn to his Hole Theory, subtitled Parts: Four & Five (parts one through three were secrets he took to the grave). The text consists of a numerically organized series of points and subpoints, laid out as if it were a mathematical proof. In section 5.1, he writes, “Typically what cannot be seen / Is what we most like to see. / Longing is my favorite / Material for engaging (not picturing / Not illustrating) holes.” Much of Pope.L’s work is disarming, even silly. The flowers, the fruit, the costumes. But it is also deadly serious, informed by the pressure of a man trying to communicate something his life depended on. With startling self-awareness, he once described himself as a “fisherman of social absurdity.” Indeed, Pope.L’s performances embody the contradictions of our time in the country he called home.

Pope.L, renowned performance artist, investigator of social issues and U. of C. professor, dies at 68
Press
Pope.L, renowned performance artist, investigator of social issues and U. of C. professor, dies at 68
Hyde Park Herald January 8, 2024

Pope.L’s work staged American social and political dynamics, often satirizing and drawing attention to the absurdity of the country’s politics, racism and consumerism. He is perhaps best known for his “crawl” performances, in which he completed  journeys on his hands and knees, either alone or with a group of volunteers. His most famous of these performances, “The Great White Way, 22 Miles, 9 Years, 1 Street,” featured Pope.L crawling along Broadway, Manhattan’s longest street. The journey, which he began in 2001, took nine years, as he could only endure roughly six blocks of crawling at any given time. As he crawled, Pope.L wore a Superman costume with a skateboard strapped to his back in place of a cape. “From its very earliest beginnings, the crawl project was conceived as a group performance. Unfortunately for me, at that time, I was the only volunteer,” Pope.L told Interview Magazine. Many of his “crawl” pieces went on to feature large groups of crawling accomplices.

Remembering Pope.L
Press
Remembering Pope.L
Art21 January 7, 2024

At the close of 2023, we lost Pope.L, an artist, educator, and mentor who has had an incalculable impact on what it means to make art, to think critically, and to exist in the strange world we’ve created for ourselves. His work critiques, makes visible, and takes apart the logics of race and class in the United States and does so elegantly, with vulnerability, and always with humor. In 2021, when I asked Pope.L why he was drawn to humor in his work, he replied, “I AM DRAWN TO HUMOR BY ITS WAFT, ITS SCENT, IT’S INTOXICATION. ITS WET, ITS GASEOUS CRITICALITY…. I AM LAUGHING AT POWER, PRIVILEGE, LACK, DEATH, HUMOR—I AM LAUGHING AT MYSELF MOSTLY.” As we mourn the loss of someone whose work and life have meant so much to so many, I hope that reading his words here provides comfort and remembrance. Click to read the interview from 2021.

Psychedelic monks, subversive sculptures and paper-eating Pope.L’s final show – the week in art
Press
Psychedelic monks, subversive sculptures and paper-eating Pope.L’s final show – the week in art
The Guardian January 5, 2024

A memorial to the performance artist who once ate the Wall Street Journal, eerie woodcuts and the immersive Book of Kells – all in your weekly dispatch. Exhibition of the week: Pope.L: Hospital. This intense evocation of Pope.L’s provocative performances, which included sitting on a toilet nearly naked, eating the Wall Street Journal, has become a memorial after his death during the Christmas holidays. South London Gallery until 11 February.

Artist Pope.L’s last interview: ‘I try to set up mysteries for people’
Press
Artist Pope.L’s last interview: ‘I try to set up mysteries for people’
Financial Times January 5, 2024

I interviewed the artist William Pope.L in October before he passed away on December 23, and our conversation delved into his visionary practice, discussing conceptual and physical nuance as well as his current exhibition. Sitting in his studio at the University of Chicago, where he was a professor, I quickly realised that my questions would not be met with direct answers. He responded with open-ended, circuitous thoughts — similar to the ambiguous atmosphere that reverberates throughout his body of work, and in his new show at South London Gallery. The gallery has two sites and he leaned into the potential: “Divided space suggests growth and rupture, not always beneficial, not always obvious, but rife with possibility.” Wholeness, he said, “is a fiction”. “It’s really fascinating what people do, and of course it has to do with what you put in the room and where you put it . . . I try to set up a mystery or mysteries for them.”

Pope.L, renowned interdisciplinary artist and UChicago scholar, 1955‒2023
Press
Pope.L, renowned interdisciplinary artist and UChicago scholar, 1955‒2023
UChicago News January 4, 2024

William Pope.L, an acclaimed interdisciplinary artist and professor in the Department of Visual Arts at the University of Chicago, died on Dec. 23 at his home in Chicago. He was 68. In the international art world, Pope.L was best known for his provocative performance art, which included crawling through the streets of New York City and Lewiston, Maine in a business suit or Superman costume and eating columns of financial news from the Wall Street Journal while smearing mayonnaise all over his torso to achieve an artificial whiteness. In addition to performance, his art also encompassed writing, photography, painting, sculpture and theater. “Pope.L was a dedicated student of the human condition, a marvelous interlocutor and a kind soul,” said Matthew Jesse Jackson, professor in the Departments of Art History, Theater and Performance Studies, Visual Arts, and the College and chair of Visual Arts at UChicago. “He ceaselessly challenged us to think. His art is humane, generous, combative and among the most important bodies of work in the 21st century.”

Pope.L, world-renowned performance artist and teacher at University of Chicago, dies at 68
Press
Pope.L, world-renowned performance artist and teacher at University of Chicago, dies at 68
Chicago Sun Times January 2, 2024

When world-renowned artist and University of Chicago teacher Pope.L needed inspiration, he’d grab an old VHS tape with episodes of the 1970s television show “Columbo” and pop it into his VCR. The title character, played by Peter Falk, of the police detective drama would tell people he was questioning, “Just one more thing,” before asking a critical question that would eventually help crack the case. “Pope.L was like Columbo. He never ceased to ask difficult questions that no one wanted to ask, and that’s how he showed care and love,” said Jinn Bronwen Lee, a former student in the University of Chicago’s visual arts department. The critical questions came through in his work as an artist and in his roles as teacher and mentor.  “He gave us the constant question of ‘Are you being sincere in the work that you make?’ And that’s really all you can ask for from a person you respect,” said colleague, friend and fellow artist Theaster Gates. Pope.L died Dec. 23 at his Hyde Park home. He was 68. No cause was given.

Conceptual artist Pope.L has died
Press
Conceptual artist Pope.L has died
Artsy January 2, 2024

Pope.L, the conceptual artist who worked in performance, sculpture, and installation, died unexpectedly last week at the age of 68. His provocative works, which often took place outside the gallery and museum context, confronted viewers with the artist’s dark, yet affecting, commentary on race, language, and humanity. The American artist, who was born in Newark, New Jersey, and based in Chicago, was best known for his “crawl pieces”: performances in which he crossed the city on his hands and knees. In these, and other works, the artist used absurd, shocking setups to highlight unspoken assumptions about race. For example, his “Skin Set” drawings sketch out confronting and illogical pronouncements on race (such as “white people are negotiable”) in block capitals on graph paper. Another notable work, Flint Water (2017), saw the artist bottle contaminated water from the Michigan city, making visible the infrastructural neglect that Black communities face. Pope L.’s death was announced by his representing galleries, Vielmetter Los Angeles, Modern Art, and Mitchell-Innes and Nash.

Pope.L, performance artist who tackled race and class, 1955–2023
Press
Pope.L, performance artist who tackled race and class, 1955–2023
ArtReview January 2, 2024

Pope.L, the Chicago artist whose work has been the subjects of multiple solo exhibitions in recent years, died at home on 23 December 2023. He is perhaps most recognised for a series of public performances, including the early Times Square Crawl (1978) and Tompkins Square Crawl (1991), in which he dragged himself on his belly across New York City streets and other public spaces. The works were a critique of the city’s growing inequality, while also introducing the artist’s body and persona into a durational relationship with the city. In The Great White Way, 22 miles, 9 years, 1 street (2001–09), where the artist crawled the entire length of Broadway in Manhattan, he did so wearing a Superman suit. Pope.L, who used to hand out a business card describing himself as ‘the friendliest Black artist in America’ (a description he also trademarked), often used direct language in his drawings, too, which included texts like ‘Black people are cropped’ in the Skin Set Drawings (1997–2011).

In Memoriam: Art World Figures Who Died in 2023
Press
In Memoriam: Art World Figures Who Died in 2023
ARTnews December 29, 2023

This year, we lost innovative artists, curators, writers, collectors, and patrons who pushed the bounds of what constitutes art, each with their own means of expression. Pope.L, an artist whose performances and conceptual artworks prodded the concept of race, died in December at 68. Pope.L amassed four decades of work that alluded to the condition of Black Americans. Provocative, sad, and sometimes shocking, his crawl performances, for which he traversed set distances on his hands and knees, remain some of his most famous works. Pope.L brought art to the people, reaching beyond institutions and into the street, putting statements about the condition of Black Americans out into the open.

Pope.L, American visual artist, dead at 68
Press
Pope.L, American visual artist, dead at 68
Far Out Magazine December 29, 2023

Pope.L, the American visual artist best known for his crawling work, has died aged 68. The artist was born William Pope in Newark, New Jersey, in 1955. Pope received his formal art education as a student at the Pratt Institute during the early 1970s before going on to study at institutions Montclair State University and Mason Gross School of Arts. While as a student, Pope began to grow a reputation for his work as a crawling artist. In 1978, he commenced on his first crawl across Times Square while wearing a business suit. Over a decade later, he carried out a similar act of performance art across the edges of Tompkins Square Park, which at the time was the epicentre of wars between the police and squatters. Pope’s most notorious crawl came in 2001 when he dressed in a Superman suit with a skateboard strapped to his back. He made a 22-mile journey from Broadway to his mother’s house in the Bronx with the task taking nine years to complete. During an interview with The Guardian in 2021, Pope explained the origin of his crawling performance art, noting: “I wanted to find a way of doing anything I wanted that didn’t need anyone to support it. I didn’t need a room and I didn’t need objects. I just needed the opportunity, which I could create myself.”

Crawling Performance Art Pioneer Pope.L Dies at 68
Press
Crawling Performance Art Pioneer Pope.L Dies at 68
Observer December 28, 2023

One of Observer’s Arts Power 50 changemakers in 2019, the performance and installation artist William Pope.L was born in Newark, New Jersey in 1955, and much of his initial artistic studies as well as the early portion of his career were spent in and around Manhattan. He then spent decades making art that interrogated both what cities produce and who those metropolises disempower, often via the individual and collective crawling projects for which he became well-known. Pope.L, part of the faculty at the University of Chicago, died at his home in Chicago on December 23, 2023, at the age of 68, as announced by his representing galleries Mitchell-Innes & Nash in New York, Vielmetter Los Angeles in Los Angeles and Modern Art in London. “Pope.L fundamentally challenged and changed the last 50 years of visual art in the United States,” the galleries shared in a statement, adding that the artist’s “longstanding history of provocative and absurdist performances along with his wide-ranging oeuvre of installations, objects, and paintings undermined conventional notions of language, materiality, and meaning.”

Pope.L, the Performance Artist Who Confronted the Complexities of Race and Inequality, Has Died
Press
Pope.L, the Performance Artist Who Confronted the Complexities of Race and Inequality, Has Died
Artnet News December 28, 2023

William Pope.L, the performance and conceptual artist whose provocative works surfaced the complexities of race and class in America, has died aged 68. His passing was announced by his gallery, Mitchell-Innes & Nash, which wrote in an Instagram post: “Pope.L fundamentally challenged and changed the last 50 years of visual art in the United States… His elegant, indeterminate, and often humorous, yet bitingly poignant criticism of our history has only recently begun to be fully recognized.” Pope.L is best known for his endurance-based crawls, for which he dragged himself over long distances in performances that melded absurdism with activism. His most ambitious performance, The Great White Way: 22 Miles, 9 Years, 1 Street, which began in 2001, saw him belly-crawl from Broadway in Manhattan to his mother’s house in the Bronx while costumed in a Superman outfit, a skateboard strapped to his back. The journey took him nine years to complete. For the artist, the crux of these works was less about the exploit than what it awoke within him—vulnerability, empathy, and what he described as “this marvelous creamy nougat center operating inside the performer.”

POPE.L (1955–2023)
Press
POPE.L (1955–2023)
Artforum December 28, 2023

Pathbreaking conceptual and performance artist Pope.L, who explored themes of race, power, and class through interventions that were often fiercely physical, frequently shocking, and almost invariably thought-provoking, died suddenly on December 23 at his home in Chicago. He was sixty-eight. His death was announced on December 27 by the three galleries that represent him: Vielmetter Los Angeles; Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York; and Modern Art, London. Whether smearing himself with mayonnaise and flour in a storefront window, devouring pages of the Wall Street Journal while perched atop a toilet, or crawling the length of New York City’s Broadway in a Superman costume, Pope.L interrogated social, political, and economic systems by operating at their margins, where many of those whose concerns he sought to address dwelt. “I am a fisherman of social absurdity, if you will,” he explained. “My focus is to politicize disenfranchisement, to make it neut, to reinvent what’s beneath us, to remind us where we all come from.” Though his practice embraced photography, painting, sculpture, and writing, Pope.L would become best known for what he called his “crawl” pieces, highly public performances in which he assumed an abject position and crept through gutters, streets, and parks, to the amazement (and sometimes horror) of those he encountered.

Artists and curators pay tribute to performance pioneer Pope.L who has died aged 68
Press
Artists and curators pay tribute to performance pioneer Pope.L who has died aged 68
The Art Newspaper December 28, 2023

The influential US performance and conceptual artist Pope.L has died aged 68 (born 1955). His death was confirmed by one of his galleries, Mitchell-Innes & Nash in New York, who said in a statement that he had died suddenly on 23 December at his home in Chicago. A raft of tributes were paid on social media. The artist Coco Fusco says in an Instagram post: “No one else but Pope.L has treated Black abjection and the absurdity of racism in such a poetic and unflinching way.” UK artist Isaac Julien says also on Instagram: “I don’t think I have ever seen a more profound and powerful critique of racism by any artist (of white masculinity) in capitalist American culture [referring to his Superman crawl along Broadway in 2000].” Artists Sanford Biggers posted: “Thank you for your eternal brilliance, integrity and guidance.” Mark Godfrey, former Tate curator, wrote on social media, that “he was such an extraordinarily original, radical artist”.

Pope.L, Artist and Performer Dies at 68
Press
Pope.L, Artist and Performer Dies at 68
ArtDependence December 28, 2023

Artist Pope.L, who worked across the fields of performance, installation, and sculpture, died suddenly in his Chicago home at the age of 68 on December 23. One of the foremost conceptual artists of our time, describing himself as a visual and performance-theater artist, as well as an educator, Pope.L fundamentally challenged and changed the last 50 years of visual art in the United States. His longstanding history of provocative and absurdist performances along with his wide-ranging oeuvre of installations, objects, and paintings undermined conventional notions of language, materiality, and meaning. His elegant, indeterminate, and often humorous, yet bitingly poignant criticism of our history has only recently begun to be fully recognized. In an interview for the monograph, member: Pope.L, published by The Museum of Modern Art in 2019, the artist noted that “the link between language and performance is duration; both exist only via the crucible of time and are continually remade in time.”

Pope.L, Provocative Performance Artist, Dies at 68
Press
Pope.L, Provocative Performance Artist, Dies at 68
The New York Times December 27, 2023

Pope.L, an uncompromising conceptual and performance artist who explored themes of race, class and what he called “have-not-ness,” and who was best known for crawling the length of Broadway in a Superman costume, died on Saturday at his home in Chicago. He was 68. The death was confirmed by his gallery, Mitchell-Innes & Nash. No cause was given. His first “crawl,” as he called them, took place in Times Square in 1978, when he moved on his belly across 42nd Street in a pinstriped suit with a yellow square sewed to the back. Getting horizontal in a relentlessly vertical city was a simple gesture that punctured most of the collective delusions that made that city run, at once lampooning and rejecting the pose of an upright citizen. It dramatized, with a potent mixture of satire and resistance, the experience of subjection particular to Black Americans. And the incongruity of a man in business attire sprawled out on the sidewalk drew attention to the homeless and disenfranchised people the average upright citizen habitually ignored. “From its very earliest beginnings,” Pope.L told Interview magazine in 2013, “the crawl project was conceived as a group performance. Unfortunately for me, at that time, I was the only volunteer.”

Ground-Breaking Performance Artist Pope.L Dies at 68, Leaving a Profound Legacy
Press
Ground-Breaking Performance Artist Pope.L Dies at 68, Leaving a Profound Legacy
BNN Breaking December 27, 2023

World-renowned performance artist Pope.L, also known as William Pope.L, passed away unexpectedly in his Chicago home on December 23 at the ripe age of 68. His death has left a gaping void in the art world, where he was celebrated for his audacious performances and innovative conceptual artworks that deeply explored race and language. Known for his provocative street performances, Pope.L’s claim to fame was his 1978 crawl along 42nd Street in New York. This performance, along with others that involved acts of vulnerability and endurance, was instrumental in bringing critical social and racial issues to the fore. His most recent show at the South London Gallery, ‘Hospital,’ received critical acclaim, marking his first show at a British non-commercial institution. Pope.L’s influence on visual art was monumental. His career was studded with accolades, including the top prize at the Whitney Biennial in 2010 and retrospectives at the Whitney and MoMA in New York in 2019.

Pope.L, Daredevil Artist Who Invoked Heady Ideas About Blackness, Dies at 68
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Pope.L, Daredevil Artist Who Invoked Heady Ideas About Blackness, Dies at 68
ARTnews December 27, 2023

Pope.L, an artist whose daredevil performances and conceptual artworks unraveled the concept of race and explored the complexities of language, died at 68 on December 23. His three galleries—Mitchell-Innes & Nash, Modern Art, and Vielmetter Los Angeles—announced his death on Wednesday, saying that he died unexpectedly in his Chicago home. Across the past four decades, Pope.L amassed an oeuvre of works that thwarted easy readings, offering up situations that alluded to the condition of Black Americans without outright stating what they were trying to communicate. The sculptures, installations, performances, and conceptual artworks that Pope.L created were often provocative and sad—and, more often than not, funny, too, in ways that could be shocking. Despite the fact that his artworks were intentionally somewhat inscrutable, they amassed a wide audience, and were shown in venues ranging from the Whitney Biennial to Documenta. A 2018 profile of Pope.L that appeared in T: The New York Times Style Magazine said that he was “inarguably the greatest performance artist of our time.”

Pope.L, Artist and Performer Who Crawled Across NYC, Dies at 68
Press
Pope.L, Artist and Performer Who Crawled Across NYC, Dies at 68
Hyperallergic December 27, 2023

Artist Pope.L, who worked across the interdisciplinary fields of performance, installation, and sculpture, died suddenly in his Chicago home at the age of 68 on December 23. Known primarily for his candid, endurance-based work that drew attention to overlooked nuances, from the systemic inequities imposed on Black Americans to the absurdity of social rituals, he melded the humor of incongruence with fastidious interrogations of political systems and society. The news of his death was confirmed by Vielmetter Los Angeles, Modern Art in London, and Mitchell-Innes & Nash in New York, the artist’s representing galleries. Beginning in 2019, Pope.L’s decades of crawls were celebrated among other elements of his practice in a trio of exhibitions organized by the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Public Art Fund. His final iteration of the series was the focal point of a performance organized by the latter titled “Conquest” (2019), which invited over 100 New Yorkers to join the artist on what he described as “an absurd journey to an uncertain goal.”

William Pope.L, a prolific artist known for his public interventions in New York, dies at 68
Press
William Pope.L, a prolific artist known for his public interventions in New York, dies at 68
The Architect's Newspaper December 27, 2023

Legendary artist Pope.L, née William Pope.L, died in Chicago on December 23 at the age of 68. His passing was confirmed by ARTnews. Separate heartfelt announcements were made on social media by the Julia Stoschek Foundation; and artists Theaster Gates, Kevin Beasley, John Corbett, and Dieter Roelstraete. Known for his elaborate performance pieces and public interventions, Pope.L was born in 1955 in Newark, where his family had immigrated from Alabama. In a recent interview, Pope.L credited his grandmother for encouraging him to become an artist despite growing up in poverty. In 1973, William Pope.L enrolled at Pratt Institute where he was introduced to a variety of media—drama, performing arts, photography, painting—he would later incorporate into his work. Pope.L completed his BFA at Montclair State University in 1978. He went on to receive an MFA in visual arts from Rutgers University. While producing visual and performance art, Pope.L was a lecturer at Bates College in Maine where he helped produce stage performances. In 2010, he was appointed as a faculty member at the University of Chicago.

Artist Pope.L, famous for his crawling performances, dies aged 68
Press
Artist Pope.L, famous for his crawling performances, dies aged 68
The Guardian December 27, 2023

The American artist Pope.L, famous for performances in which he crawled through the gutters of busy American streets, has died aged 68, his gallery confirmed. His first show since 2011 for a British non-commercial institution, the South London Gallery, opened only last month and was critically acclaimed. The artist attended the opening of the exhibition, which was titled Hospital. He died at home on 23 December in Chicago. Pope.L, who was also known as William Pope.L, made his first crawling piece in 1978. Wearing a business suit and pushing a potted plant, he crawled the length of 42nd Street in New York on his hands and knees, taking him across Times Square, then heavily populated with homeless people, sex workers, drug addicts and others at society’s margins. This act of vulnerability, endurance and abjection made his name and was followed by more than 30 others, including a 2001 crawl, while dressed in a Superman costume and with a skateboard strapped to his back, from the bottom of Broadway to the artist’s mother’s house in the Bronx.

Pope.L: “The problem still itches. The wound will not close”
Press
Pope.L: “The problem still itches. The wound will not close”
Plaster Magazine December 12, 2023

Pope.L’s new exhibition, ‘Hospital’ at South London Gallery is imbued with a sense of aftermath and desolation. Blending the absurd, political and social via sound, film, performance, installation and sculpture, ‘Hospital’ takes us through the breadth of the American artist’s practice. There is a lilting sense of passing time and gradual dilapidation as; elements of the show will leak, drip and decay throughout its duration. “I found myself thinking about landscape, a single, lone figure in that landscape. But the figure is not vertical,” Pope.L told Plaster. “I found myself thinking about horizontal things, gravity, the supine, collapse and of course their opposites or almost opposites as well as the human feelings associated with these binaries. In addition, I have had to, for various reasons, visit hospitals more frequently lately. All of this has combined to get me thinking in a hospital-like direction. People used to go to hospitals to die. Now we go to be what they now call cared for, which is really just a form of repair, redemption, recusing but hospitals, try as they might, try as they might, care as they might, are still places of depression, super-germs and woe.”

Grasping Colour: Pope.L interviewed by Judith Wilkinson
Press
Grasping Colour: Pope.L interviewed by Judith Wilkinson
Art Monthly December 8, 2023

The New Jersey-born US artist, known for his physically demanding performances and multa-media installations, talks about care as a metaphor for wider social and political malaises and the challenges of working with colour. "i think about colour all the time, i don't know what good it's done -- i think of colour as non-colour. as a mark, a letterform. not because it's really a mark or a letterform... it's out of convenience or an embarrassment of not really grasping colour, but who does grasp! colour anyway, really? tell me how can one grasp, grab, fondle, attach to colour? i mean colour is not just tech or social coding (i'm not dissing your bone, muscle, blood analogy here) -- colour's elusiveness in a way proves its utility -- colour is one of those funny, amazing things, very much a part of the material world yet discursively a ph-PH-PH-PH-PHantom -- maybe coulour ain't the problem, maybe it's us -- of course it's us, it's always fucking us -- people say colour is intuitive, ok, OK fine but it's also phenomenal and material, you can measure it, but people's codings of colour do not necessarily follow what, how we measure -- blood, bone, muscle -- and plastic, flourescent light and isopropyl alcohol, that is what i say."

Art shows to leave the house for in December 2023
Press
Art shows to leave the house for in December 2023
Dazed November 29, 2023

From hip-hop in New York to witchcraft in London and a testament of enduring love in Chicago, here’s our round-up of the must-see shows this month. Rounding out a great year of art shows are… even more great art shows! The art world has really been gifting us all of 2023, and December’s list isn’t letting up. From celebrating Charlie Ahearn’s iconic film, Wild Style in NYC to surrealism and witchcraft in London, and love and intimacy in Chicago, there’s something under this tree for everyone. See you in 2024! American artist Pope.L brings his extensive career to South London Gallery for Hospital, an inaugural London exhibition that navigates the crossroads of philosophy and theatre. He has explored society, politics, and culture across literature, painting, performance, installation, sculpture, and film, often confronting language, gender, race, economics, and community through provocation. Until February 11, 2024.

Review: Pope.L "Hospital" at South London Gallery
Press
Review: Pope.L "Hospital" at South London Gallery
Time Out November 21, 2023

In 2000, American artist Pope.L created the world’s most precarious toilet. It was a vast rickety wooden tower, topped with a porcelain throne upon which he sat, covered in flour, and ate The Wall Street Journal. It was an absurd, obscene mockery of capitalism and whiteness, and it was signature Pope.L. The tower is reconstructed here in the main building, but it has toppled, its wooden beams have snapped, the bog hangs in mid-air, the whole thing is caked in dust and dirt. Is this the artifice of capitalism crumbling before you? The armour of whiteness failing? Bottles of cheap booze – Buckfast and Cactus Jack – are left dripping onto the floor, bowls of dust are there for you to sprinkle on the art, speakers play plopping and whooshing sounds. It lacks the essential performance element that makes Pope.L’s work so vital, obviously, but as a post-9/11 scene of destruction, a tower of American dominance that has utterly failed, it’s brilliant.

This Week in Culture: November 20 - 26
Press
This Week in Culture: November 20 - 26
Cultured Magazine November 20, 2023

London: “Hospital” by Pope.L, at South London Gallery from November 21, 2023 to February 11, 2024. Why It’s Worth a Look: Since the 1970s, American artist Pope.L's work has remained unconfinable, spanning writing, painting, sculpture, installation, and performance. On display across South London Gallery’s Main Gallery and Fire Station, “Hospital,” is his first solo exhibition in a London institution. In a statement, Pope.L said, “‘Hospital’ is that sensation of lying on your back on a stretcher in a hallway cold staring at the veins in the ceiling above while it stares right back.” Know Before You Go: The Main Gallery houses a reworking of Eating the Wall Street Journal, 2000, showing three massive leaning tower structures upon which Pope.L once sat on a toilet, coated in flour and wearing just a jockstrap, while he ate pages out of the Wall Street Journal.  

‘As a tool, meaning has its limits’: Pope.L on being inspired by the romantics and the power of the absurd
Press
‘As a tool, meaning has its limits’: Pope.L on being inspired by the romantics and the power of the absurd
The Art Newspaper November 17, 2023

Pope.L may not call himself one of the most influential performance artists working in the US today, but he has been known to pass out business cards declaring he is “the friendliest Black artist in America”. Known for his provocative and often absurdist works that deal with race, economic systems and language, the Chicago-based artist and educator works across multiple disciplines, from installations and film to painting and writing. His work is as distinctive as it is expansive. The hallmark of Pope.L’s practice is his use of iteration and intervention, both of which are evident in his Crawl series, which saw him move on hands and knees across large swaths of New York City on several occasions between 1978 and 2001. These performances were meant to counter “verticality”—a concept he uses to underscore the wealth and health it requires to be socially mobile. The gruelling physicality of the Crawls was only one aspect of them; equally important to the work was the reaction of onlookers, which could largely be summarised as compulsive avoidance.

Ten shows to see at New England museums this fall
Press
Ten shows to see at New England museums this fall
The Boston Globe October 20, 2023

MAINE - A legendary performance artist known for inserting himself unceremoniously in the public sphere — a well-known series had him literally crawl on elbows and knees through the streets of Manhattan — Pope.L has described himself as “a fisherman of social absurdity.” That absurdity has often been the raw material of a strident critique of racial inequity in the US, and has recently made him more visible and relevant than ever: In 2019, New York’s Museum of Modern Art mounted a survey of more than 20 years of his work; concurrently, the Whitney Museum of American Art installed a massive new work, “Choir,” an industrial water tank installed amid a soundscape that evoked Black Americans’ being denied basic access to clean drinking water. “Small Cup,” a homecoming of sorts — the artist was a lecturer at Bates College in nearby Lewiston from 1992 to 2010; he’s now faculty at the University of Chicago — is very much of a piece. In the video of the live 2008 performance, a herd of goats demolishes a small-scale replica of the US Capitol building, an eerie resonance that these days cuts close to the bone. Through Feb. 4.

The 100 Greatest New York City Artworks, Ranked
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The 100 Greatest New York City Artworks, Ranked
ARTnews August 29, 2023

The works ranked below take many forms—painting, sculpture, photography, film, performance, even artist-run organizations whose activities barely resemble art. Binding all of these works is one larger question: What really makes a city? These 100 works come up with many different answers to that query, not the least because a significant number of them are made by people who were born outside New York City. When Martha Rosler made her work, the Bowery was associated with alcoholism and homelessness—societal issues that many would prefer not to see. In an attempt to reverse the invisibility, Rosler took pictures around the Manhattan street, pairing her black-and-white shots with short texts she collected that refer to drunkenness and drinking. No New York artwork may have been quite as grueling to produce as The Great White Way, a performance begun by Pope.L in 2001 that involved traversing the 22 miles from the southernmost tip of Broadway in Manhattan to his mother’s home in the Bronx. The catch: Pope.L went that distance not by foot but on his elbows and knees. The Great White Way is one of Pope.L’s famed “crawls,” a painstaking series of works that are often performed in public. This one involved the artist wearing a Superman suit—a reference to his aunt’s love for the comic-book hero, and to Pope.L’s fascination with her passion for a white man who was not even human—with a skateboard strapped to his back.

Pope.L. is Making a Commitment to Art
Press
Pope.L. is Making a Commitment to Art
Louisiana Channel May 18, 2023

”I want to make sure I do things where I’m showing a commitment.” American artists Pope.L. have crawled through Times Square in a suit, eaten the Wall Street Journal and painted onions in the colours of the American flag. Meet the artists who, in his own words, “make stuff.” “It was my grandmother. It was her idea.” Pope.L.’s grandmother wanted to be an artist, so she encouraged him to go down that path: “Black people. Poor Black people. It’s just not realistic at that time to think about yourself in that way. I mean, I don’t even think it was realistic for her to think about me in that way.” Yet, she did, and Pope.L. ended up studying art: “I think I had excellent teachers. You have to have an interesting mix of encouragement, criticism, and good conversation.” Pope.L. was interviewed by Roxanne Bagheshirin Lærkesen in his studio in Chicago in February 2023.

Gordon Matta-Clark & Pope.L: Impossible Failures at 52 Walker finds consonances between two very different artists
Press
Gordon Matta-Clark & Pope.L: Impossible Failures at 52 Walker finds consonances between two very different artists
The Architect's Newspaper April 6, 2023

Gordon Matta-Clark & Pope.L: Impossible Failures, 52 Walker’s blockbuster late-winter show, which closed earlier this month, built a bridge between two interdisciplinary artists, and then knocked it down. The undeniable anchor of the show, though, was Pope.L’s Vigilance a.k.a Dust Room (2023), a big box in the back. On a table before it, tens of power cords plugged into chunky outlets. A sign was duct-taped between them, written in red blocky letters: DANGER! DO NOT OPERATE THIS DUST ROOM! NOT READY FOR SAFETY. And yet, if not safely, the room stood ready. Impossible Failures showed possible successes, as Pope.L didn’t fill in Matta-Clark’s cavities, per se, but saw them as fillable—even if what contains them might be the unthinkable.

Gordon Matta-Clark and Pope.L: Impossible Failures
Press
Gordon Matta-Clark and Pope.L: Impossible Failures
The Brooklyn Rail March 15, 2023

Usually, stepping into a gallery provides temporary respite. Unless, that is, you’ve decided to check out Gordon Matta-Clark and Pope.L: Impossible Failures at 52 Walker. Pairing iconic films and drawings by Matta-Clark with video, drawings, and an installation by contemporary multidisciplinary artist Pope.L, this exhibition is proudly, penetratingly loud—visually, aurally, and conceptually. The raucous, machinic whirring that accompanies you throughout your visit emanates from a freshly commissioned installation by Pope.L—Vigilance a.k.a Dust Room (2023)—situated bang in the middle of the gallery space and composed of a self-contained room, fed by lengths of industrial ducting, whose interior is only visible through a few holes punched into its walls.

Gordon Matta-Clark & Pope.L: Impossible Failures
Press
Gordon Matta-Clark & Pope.L: Impossible Failures
The Brooklyn Rail March 9, 2023

Pope.L’s Failure Drawings (2003–ongoing) are made exclusively while the artist is traveling, often using scraps of paper like receipts or hotel stationery as their canvas. Worms, nature and landscapes, references to outer space, and glasses are rendered repeatedly, often bringing to mind particular preoccupations including transience, life and death, and the passage of time. Although the drawings are not meant to be read or understood as one cohesive narrative, their feeling of unresolve—as if testing out a pen—is more akin to iterative brainstorming sessions. In Failure Drawing #997 Four Scenes (2004), Pope.L’s marks give viewers a different perspective on the idea of space travel and the discovery of new lands.

What to See in N.Y.C. Galleries in March
Press
What to See in N.Y.C. Galleries in March
The New York Times March 2, 2023

A cartoonish cacophony governs the inspired pairing of Gordon Matta-Clark and Pope.L in the show “Impossible Failures” at Zwirner’s revamped downtown space. Known for abject performances, especially a series of epic “crawls” around New York dressed as a businessman (or Superman), Pope.L brings a sardonic sense of urbanism to Matta-Clark’s poetic one. A new installation by Pope.L, “Vigilance a.k.a. Dust Room,” sits at the gallery’s center: A white box of two-by-fours and plywood, rigged with shop fans on timers, sounds like a choir of leaf blowers. Two small windows on one side reveal its dim interior thick with whirling foam pellets, light and dark. It’s powerful and unhinged and overbuilt — a monument to the entropy of the postindustrial city, and the tenuous dance of its inhabitants.

Films, Exhibitions, Food and More: Brilliant Things to Do This February
Press
Films, Exhibitions, Food and More: Brilliant Things to Do This February
AnOther Magazine February 1, 2023

From Jean Cocteau-inspired cocktails to rousing artist retrospectives, here are the events to bookmark for a remarkable month ahead. Gordon Matta-Clark & Pope.L: Impossible Failures at 52 Walker, New York: February 3 – April 02, 2023. At New York gallery 52 Walker, select drawings and films by the late US artist Gordon Matta-Clark – best known for his socially engaged food art and so-called building cuts (sculptures made by cutting into existing architecture) – will be shown alongside those of Pope.L, whose multidisciplinary oeuvre tackles issues of identity, race and labour. The show will examine the duo's “shared fixation regarding the problematics of architecture, language, institutions, scale, and value”, and is set to include a new site-specific installation by Pope.L.

All the Must-See Art Shows of 2023 (So Far)
Press
All the Must-See Art Shows of 2023 (So Far)
W Magazine January 12, 2023

Describing the early 2023 arts calendar as “stacked” feels like an understatement. Consider this your grab-bag guide to the can’t-miss exhibitions of the season, and check back often—we’ll be updating this list as more events roll in. 52 Walker is kicking off the new year with Gordon Matta-Clark & Pope.L: Impossible Failures, an exhibition pairing the work of the site-specific artist Gordon Matta-Clark and the visual artist Pope.L. The TriBeCa space helmed by Ebony L. Haynes will unveil on February 3 an examination of the two artists’ careers—specifically, their shared fixations on the problematic nature of institutions, language, scale, and value. Running through April 1, Impossible Failures will also feature a new site-specific installation by Pope.L, presented in collaboration with Mitchell-Innes & Nash. Personally, we can’t wait to see the Newark, New Jersey native’s take on Matta-Clark’s preferred medium.

Through his streetwear collaboration, Pope.L dispenses some Supreme career advice
Press
Through his streetwear collaboration, Pope.L dispenses some Supreme career advice
The Art Newspaper October 5, 2022

The influential US performance artist Pope.L has teamed up with the streetwear brand Supreme in one of the art world’s more unusual partnerships. Images from Pope.L’s work The Great White Way: 22 Miles, 9 years, 1 Street (2000-09) appear on a T-shirt and skateboard designed by the uber-trendy clothing brand, bringing to mind the artist’s best-known work when he crawled all the way up New York’s Broadway from Battery Park to the Bronx wearing a Superman costume. Pope.L has said that he started his crawls after seeing so many people living on the street, and imagining: “What if all these people en masse began to move as one? But at the time I could only convince one person to do it and that was myself.”

Best Style Releases This Week: Supreme, Denim Tears, Awake NY, and More
Press
Best Style Releases This Week: Supreme, Denim Tears, Awake NY, and More
Complex September 7, 2022

Fall is (almost) here, which means it’s time to really start dressing. If you are someone who is looking to add some statement pieces to your wardrobe, there are some great drops this week that you should be paying attention to. Supreme is reportedly dropping its leather jacket collaboration Jeff Hamilton along with a series of items with artist Pope.L, Denim Tears has joined forces with Stüssy and Our Legacy for some all-over print Levi’s denim sets, and Kith has some solid fleece jackets coming as part of its Fall 2022 lineup. Other notable projects include an Awake NY x UPS capsule celebrating the Latinx community and the debut of Matty Matheson’s workwear brand Rosa Rugosa. If you’re planning your next vacation, consider copping some luxurious luggage from the Casablanca x Globe-Trotter collab. 

Supreme celebrates performance artist William Pope.L
Press
Supreme celebrates performance artist William Pope.L
Collateral September 7, 2022

Coinciding with the week 2 drop of the Fall 2022 collection, Supreme presents its collaboration with U.S. artist William Pope.L. Born in 1955 in Newark, he is currently a professor in the visual arts department at the University of Chicago, the city where he precisely works and lives. Pope.L owes his notoriety primarily to his performances that began to interest him, as well as experimental theater, while attending Rutgers University. However, he is not limited exclusively to performance-art but works indiscriminately with photography, video, sculpture and writing. His works are described as provocative, absurd, and disruptive, showing a particular interest in the role of objects in contemporary society and in our daily lives, unearthing their symbolic power.

Pope.L x Supreme Fall 2022 Collaboration
Press
Pope.L x Supreme Fall 2022 Collaboration
Hypebeast September 6, 2022

Accompanying its Nike SB Blazer Mid Fall 2022 collaboration, Supreme will also be releasing a team-up with American artist William Pope.L to mark its Fall 2022 Week 2 drop. Born in 1955, the Newark, New Jersey native developed his interest in experimental theater and performance during his graduate studies at Rutgers University. Referring to himself as “a fisherman of social absurdity,” Pope.L put together displays in public and municipal spaces in New York. Tompkins Square Park, outside of a midtown Chase Bank, and more served as the location of showings that launched conversations around complicity, power, race, class, gender, and embodiment. The artist’s work in theater, intervention, painting, drawing, sculpture, installation, writing, and video has been described as provocative, absurd, disruptive, and vulnerable.

Pope.L: Between a Figure and a Letter
Press
Pope.L: Between a Figure and a Letter
Metal Magazine August 20, 2022

As early as the 1970s, Pope.L (Chicago-based visual and performance- theatre artist and educator who makes culture out of contraries) drew attention to the brutality of social decline in a country with little to no basic social security in his legendary Crawls through the streets of American cities on his knees and elbows. His interdisciplinary practice moves between performance, text, painting, installation, video, and sculpture. For the Between a Figure and a Letter exhibition at the flagship of Berlin’s culture Schinkel Pavillon, (which was on view until July 31st) Pope.L creates a new, space-filling as well as a site-specific installation. This is presented in artistic and contextual dialogue with the Skin Set Drawings (1997-2011) from his earlier creative period and the video work Small Cup (2008), exhibited in the basement.

Pope.L Invites Us to “Enter The Mess” When Things Fall Apart
Press
Pope.L Invites Us to “Enter The Mess” When Things Fall Apart
Hyperallergic July 7, 2022

When asked by Martha Wilson about the affinity for contradiction within his work in a 1996 BOMB magazine interview, artist Pope.L pointed to his own family experiences as one clue, noting how the “desire to keep things together,” kept coming in conflict with “this tendency for things to fall apart.” Rather than accept these impulses as mutually exclusive and in opposition, Pope.L, who is known for his gonzo interventions into art and life, dives into the tensions, curious as to how one makes meaning within such a shifting and unstable environment. He embraces contradiction and nonsense as but one method of engaging with our social realities and understanding how those realities are structured by ideologies like racism, consumerism, and more.

A couple of things. Or rather, a cupola things. A conversation with Pope.L
Press
A couple of things. Or rather, a cupola things. A conversation with Pope.L
Flash Art July 4, 2022

In his practice, Pope.L engages modes of demonstration, obfuscation, protestation, and, in his words, masturbation, to infiltrate systems of language, culture, and oppression. For his first solo exhibition in Berlin, “Between a Figure and a Letter,” the American artist presents Contraption (2022), an enlarged, analogical wood chipper dominating the Schinkel Pavillon’s main floor. Lining a shelf on the room’s right side are wooden models –– architectural elements of Berlin’s controversial Humboldtforum and the Schinkel Pavillon itself –– that are periodically extracted and fed to the titular contraption by a performer carrying a pizza paddle. Borrowing its name from the US Capitol’s iconic cupola, the film Small Cup (2008), shown on the Schinkel’s lower level, shows farm animals grazing and stamping upon a miniature reproduction of the same building in Washington, DC. Selections from Pope.L’s text-based Skin Set Drawings are presented such that they remain just out of reach, enshrined within custom-made metallic frames that reflect distorted images back at the viewer. Resigned to partial legibility, these works formalize the gulf of “un-meaning” alluded to in the exhibition’s title: that between a figure and a letter.

Your Concise Los Angeles Art Guide for July 2022
Press
Your Concise Los Angeles Art Guide for July 2022
Hyperallergic June 30, 2022

Enigmatic artist Pope.L works across performance, installation, and video to explore race, identity, language, and material culture. For his second solo show at Vielmetter, he has transformed the gallery into a series of sheds through which viewers must navigate. They will encounter four video works characterized by their unsettling tone, and a sculpture, I Machine, that is composed of two stacked overhead projectors and a contraption that drips liquid into a bowl, the sound of which is amplified. Also on view will be elements from “The Black Factory,” an ongoing archive since 2004 of “black objects” gathered from the public, that have been secured in compression boxes.

Metonyms of Power: Pope.L at Schinkel Pavillon
Press
Metonyms of Power: Pope.L at Schinkel Pavillon
Berlin Art Link June 24, 2022

Informed by a biography that bespeaks binary tension—imagine dividing thirty years of your life between crawling in Manhattan and schooling well-to-do students in rural Maine—Pope.L, working with the curator Dieter Roelstraete, opens his first solo exhibition, ‘Between a Figure and a Letter,’ in the darkened octagonal basement of Berlin’s Schinkel Pavillon. Most visitors to the exhibition are likely anticipating the installation located in the sunlit hall two floors above which is, on the arrival of an audience, activated by a dramatically loud performance. Curiosity thus permeates the bifurcated space as one wonders what the acutely sarcastic critic of contemporary culture has drawn up or, rather, torn down for Berlin.

American Artist Pope.L On His New Exhibition at Schinkel Pavillon
Press
American Artist Pope.L On His New Exhibition at Schinkel Pavillon
Design Scene April 15, 2022

Schinkel Pavilion presents “Between A Figure and A Letter”, the new exhibition by American artist Pope.L, curated by Dieter Roelstraete. Known for his provocative interventions in public spaces, the artist is addressing issues and themes ranging from language to gender, race, social struggle, and community. The exhibition is open from April 8th until July 31st, 2022.

Pope.L, My Kingdom for a Title
Press
Pope.L, My Kingdom for a Title
The Brooklyn Rail December 1, 2021

One might presume that a collection of Pope.L’s writing spanning the artist’s decades-long career would be, itself, a performance. My Kingdom for a Title enlivens the artist’s fascination with language as a core mode of inquiry. An artist known for his strenuous public crawls that often include pedestrian and volunteer participation in a mixture of rehearsed and spontaneous study, such as “The Great White Way” (2001-09) and most recently “Conquest” (2019), My Kingdom for a Title is equal parts a peek at the artist’s sketchbook and a career retrospective through Pope.L’s iterative textual analysis.

Armchair Traveller: London to Berlin and Back Again
Press
Armchair Traveller: London to Berlin and Back Again
Interview Magazine August 10, 2021

During his more than 40-year career, Chicago artist Pope.L has explored power disparities in language, gender, race, community and the environment across many mediums and disciplines. His exhibition with Modern Art centers on Skin Set, an ongoing project involving a number of text-inflected works that consider the construction of language, identity and stereotype as notation, holes and— frequently— humor.

Pope.L: Notations, Holes and Humour at Modern Art Bury Street, London
Press
Pope.L: Notations, Holes and Humour at Modern Art Bury Street, London
Art Fuse August 4, 2021

Pope.L’s exhibition with Modern Art centers on his ongoing project, Skin Set, a constantly growing and shifting group of text-inflected works across many media that consider the construction of language, identity and stereotype as notation, hole and frequently absurdity and humour. The show, installed on both floors of the gallery, contains video, silkscreen, assemblage, floor pieces and paintings made between 2015 and 2021. On view are several medicine cabinets originally shown at the University of Chicago’s Neubauer Collegium earlier this year.

‘I’m not Jeff Koons!’ – the endurance crawls, weird texts and guerrilla brilliance of Pope.L
Press
‘I’m not Jeff Koons!’ – the endurance crawls, weird texts and guerrilla brilliance of Pope.L
The Guardian July 18, 2021

For a long time, if anyone ever asked for his contact details, Pope.L would produce a business card proclaiming him to be “The Friendliest Black Artist in America”. Sure enough, when he pops up on a video call from his ramshackle studio in Chicago, the performance artist and painter is amenable and thoughtful. In trucker cap and checked shirt, he shifts between smiles and pensive frowns as we track his journey from “difficult” childhood to one of America’s foremost artists, whose work deals with race, economics and language.

Welcome to Pandemic Aesthetics: How the Health Crisis Is Reshaping Contemporary Art—and Changing the Way We Look at It, Too The "pandemic intervenes again and again" in shows by Jill Magid, Pope.L, and other artists
Press
Welcome to Pandemic Aesthetics: How the Health Crisis Is Reshaping Contemporary Art—and Changing the Way We Look at It, Too The "pandemic intervenes again and again" in shows by Jill Magid, Pope.L, and other artists
artnet news July 1, 2021

Down the street, in the posh, wood-paneled drawing room of the Neubauer Collegium gallery, Pope.L framed out a scrappy room-within-a-room to display five small paintings. The floor was covered in rolls of construction paper taped together at the seams; the walls and ceiling were made of two-by-fours; mirrored medicine cabinets, their doors hanging open, housed the canvases and still wore cling film, which quivered in the breeze generated by tower fans. Also fluttering were hundreds of disposable face masks dangling from the rafters, like festive paper banners—but not. The overall impression was of a medical construction project riskily abandoned halfway through.

Take a closer look at artist Pope.L’s newest exhibition
Press
Take a closer look at artist Pope.L’s newest exhibition
UChicago News March 8, 2021

After nearly a full year of closure, the University of Chicago’s Neubauer Collegium will reopen its gallery to the public—doing so with a new exhibition from acclaimed artist Pope.L.
On display through May 16, My Kingdom for a Title features recent work by Pope.L, a scholar in UChicago’s Department of Visual Arts. The show contains allusions to the COVID-19 crisis with a degree of directness that is unusual in Pope.L’s work, which is often elusive and ambiguous.

TALKING ART AND ABOUT TRAINING: MY INVITATION TO CATHERINE SULLIVAN AND POPE.L
Press
TALKING ART AND ABOUT TRAINING: MY INVITATION TO CATHERINE SULLIVAN AND POPE.L
THE JOURNAL OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF DESIGN October 21, 2020

Artists Pope.L, Catherine Sullivan, and I work together at the University of Chicago where we have each spent many hours engaging with the artwork of our students. The following conversation grows from my great respect for their thinking as I have come to know them over the past nine years. Both allow themselves to be vulnerable as they orchestrate with affection and humility encounters with others in search of their subjects. I am moved by their bravery. In contrast to their training in theater, mine was focused on visual arts. This contrast, like dye added to cells in a petri dish, makes visible the ways in which our formative experiences influence the contours of our thinking.

My own work is heavily influenced by psychoanalytic theory and practice, in which I find openings to understand how meaning accumulates in flexible layers. I wondered if theater methodology provides a similar architecture for making sense of the complexity of human being. Perhaps all three of us are engaged in an effort to build a shared infrastructure that is in contrast to the rigidity of propaganda and our current polarized political situation.

A Q&A with Pope.L, the artist behind the latest Aspen Art Museum ‘takeover’ in The Aspen Times
Press
A Q&A with Pope.L, the artist behind the latest Aspen Art Museum ‘takeover’ in The Aspen Times
The Aspen Times August 27, 2020

Pope.L has worked in painting, performance, installation. An incisive cultural observer and artist of intervention, he may best be known for his performance pieces with people crawling on sidewalks and streets. His recent solo exhibitions include “member: Pope.: 1978-2001” at the Museum of Modern Art (2019), “Conquest” with the Public Art Fund in New York (2019), and “Choir” at the Whitney Museum of American Art (2019-20).

Spotlight: Pope.L | Vielmetter
Press
Spotlight: Pope.L | Vielmetter
Artforum July 2020

Pope.L’s I-Machine (2014–20) has a handmade, provisional appearance that conveys a sense of a thing in a state of ongoing and perhaps hopeless becoming. The artist describes the work as a “self-blinding contraption… self-blinding because its function is to encourage unknowledge or ignorance or, at best, reflection on ignorance and doubt. by encourage, i mean, when one is in the presence of this assembly, one should feel prodded toward opacity, uselessness, dumbness and incompleteness rather than transparency, smarty-pantsness and wholeness.”

A Work in Progress That Explores Our Collective Ignorance
Press
A Work in Progress That Explores Our Collective Ignorance
The New York Times July 23, 2020

In this new series, The Artists, an installment of which will publish every day this week and regularly thereafter, T will highlight a recent or little-shown work by a Black artist, along with a few words from that artist, putting the work into context. Today, we’re looking at a piece by Pope.L, who’s known for his paintings, performances and installations that often explore themes of endurance alongside the history of race in America.

IN DETROIT, ARTISTS PURSUE AFROFUTURIST VISIONS OF JUSTICE AND AFROPESSIMIST STRATEGIES OF WITHDRAWAL
Press
IN DETROIT, ARTISTS PURSUE AFROFUTURIST VISIONS OF JUSTICE AND AFROPESSIMIST STRATEGIES OF WITHDRAWAL
Art in America July 9, 2020

Just before New York issued its shelter-in-place order in March, I attended the closing of Pope.L’s exhibition “Choir” at the Whitney Museum of American Art. Entertainment justice adopts a rhetoric of Black empowerment similar to that of the Black Arts Movement in the ’70s. But, as critic Aria Dean writes, Pope.L has reacted to that position over the course of his life as an artist, developing a “hole theory” that posits Blackness’s relationship to trauma as a powerful creative force.

From Leonardo at the Louvre to the Rise of Jordan Casteel: The Best of the Art World This Year
Press
From Leonardo at the Louvre to the Rise of Jordan Casteel: The Best of the Art World This Year
Robb Report June 16, 2020

As part of a three-venue tribute to Pope.L, the Public Art Fund produced Conquest, the latest installment of the artist’s long-running “Crawls” series, in which he dragged himself facedown through urban environments in a potent metaphor for struggle against a backdrop of homelessness. Pope.L made his first “Crawl” in 1978 and over the years did versions carrying a small potted flower or wearing a Superman costume.

POPE.L WALKS INTO A ROOM SIMONE WHITE ON THE ART OF POPE.L
By Simone White
POPE.L WALKS INTO A ROOM SIMONE WHITE ON THE ART OF POPE.L
Artforum February 2020

POPE.L WALKS INTO A ROOM. Hair looks good. Everybody knows Pope.L’s hair be looking dry and wild but maybe Pope.L’s supposed to be unkempt. Pope.L walks right up to me, has something to say important, not conversational, not in a conversational tone he starts talking in an urgent manner. I do take note of people’s appearances, most everybody’s in the way when they come up to me to say something, I don’t pretend not to look. Pope.L starts talking to me like we’re familiar so I figured I forgot and knew Pope.L from before but I never forget a face even though since I gave birth I can’t remember shit I can’t recall words like I used to.

MEMBERS ONLY CIARÁN FINLAYSON ON THE ART OF POPE.L
By Ciran Finlayson
MEMBERS ONLY CIARÁN FINLAYSON ON THE ART OF POPE.L
Artforum February 2020

AMONG THE VIDEOS ON DISPLAY in “member: Pope.L, 1978–2001,” at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, many of which are grainy documents of Pope.L’s experimental theater works, is Egg Eating Contest (Basement version), 1990, a piece first performed in East Orange, New Jersey, in which the artist appears as a sort of emasculated black nationalist strutting around a cellar in a tattered black tunic.

What Makes Pope.L’s Art Endure? (It’s Not the Famous Crawls)
By Martha Schwendener
What Makes Pope.L’s Art Endure? (It’s Not the Famous Crawls)
The New York Times January 9, 2020

Artists often adopt personas in their work — master painter, trickster, savant — and you can see this in the 13 performances of the maverick artist William Pope.L at the Museum of Modern Art. And he uses the characters in his show, “member: Pope.L, 1978-2001,” to critique race and class in the United States.

Pope.L: Instigation, Aspiration, Perspiration
by Jessica Holmes
Pope.L: Instigation, Aspiration, Perspiration
The Brooklyn Rail December 17, 2019

800 gallons of water is an abstract concept, until you see its volume cascade before your eyes into a cavernous holding tank. Then, that amount of water becomes visceral. It’s mesmerizing to sit before a specific amount of water, and contemplate the ways we use, exploit, and waste this most important of resources on a regular basis. This is the experience of witnessing Choir (2019), artist Pope.L’s gallery-filling installation currently on view at the Whitney Museum of American Art.

Art Basel in Miami Beach diary: fairgoers go bananas for 'The Banana' and Pope.L offers a message in a vessel
by the Editors
Art Basel in Miami Beach diary: fairgoers go bananas for 'The Banana' and Pope.L offers a message in a vessel
The Art Newspaper December 7, 2019

A pirate wench with the head of Martin Luther King Jr hangs upside-down from the ceiling, her bosom partially exposed, on the stand of Mitchell-Innes & Nash at Art Basel in Miami Beach. The ghostly figure also leaks a chocolate substance mixed with the paint thinner Floetrol. Altogether, the statue A Vessel in a Vessel in a Vessel and So On (2007), by the artist Pope.L, is a comment on the toxicity of black stereotypes. The technician who installed the eye-popping creation says that the dangerous-if-consumed liquid seeps out for three seconds at a time. Best to seek refreshments elsewhere.

Pope.L
by James Hannaham
Pope.L
4Columns December 6, 2019

“I got my own cultural anorexia,” the performance and visual artist Pope.L (formerly known as William Pope.L) wrote in his 1997 manifesto, “Notes on Crawling Piece,” declaring what he deemed a binge-and-purge relationship to modern art (despite the clinically inaccurate metaphor). “It’s kinda racy, / I get down on my belly and crawl till I’m reality.” 

Crawling Through New York City with the Artist Pope.L
by Nathan Taylor Pemberton
Crawling Through New York City with the Artist Pope.L
The New Yorker November 22, 2019

Pope.L has perfected crawling as his particular kind of disruption. He has traversed a substantial portion of New York City (and parts of Europe) on his hands, knees, stomach, and elbows, wearing everything from a Superman costume to a sports jersey and Nike sneakers.  For his inaugural crawl, in 1978, the artist slowly made his way down Forty-second Street, passing Times Square, wearing a pin-striped suit with a yellow square stitched onto its back. 

The Trickster Art of Pope.L Draws Power from Negation
by Aria Dean
The Trickster Art of Pope.L Draws Power from Negation
Art in America November 20, 2019

In 1978, Pope.L got on his hands and knees in a suit and safety vest, and made his way through the bustling crowds of Midtown Manhattan. Titled Times Square Crawl a.k.a. Meditation Square Piece, his performance combined a disturbance in public space with abjection and perverse humor, setting the tone for his subsequent experiments with what it means to make art and move through the world as a black man.

Pope.L layers performances and haunted places to question dominant historical narratives
by Suzie Oppenheimer
Pope.L layers performances and haunted places to question dominant historical narratives
Document Journal November 12, 2019

Pope.L deals in place, space, and traces. Since the 1970s, the artist has created provocative interventions in public spaces and work that experiments with language and material. With an affinity for the trope of the “trickster,” his work often provokes reconsiderations of societal conventions through an adjacency with the absurd.

Famous For Crawling Up Broadway In A Superman Suit, Pope.L Brings His Politically-Charged Absurdist Art To MoMA
by Jonathon Keats
Famous For Crawling Up Broadway In A Superman Suit, Pope.L Brings His Politically-Charged Absurdist Art To MoMA
Forbes November 11, 2019

Pope.L's absurdist exploits are the focus of an important new retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art. The exhibition and accompanying catalogue are worthy testaments to the artist's unique talent, while also inspiring the viewer to consider how Pope.L's provocative interrogations of economic inequality and racial prejudice can be models for political engagement more broadly.

Pope.L on Race, Power and Performance in the US
Press
Pope.L on Race, Power and Performance in the US
ArtReview October 25, 2019

‘Black people are the window and the breaking of the window,’ reads Pope.L’s 2004 text drawing of the same title. ‘Purple people’, according to another work in his ‘Skin Set’ series (1997–2011), ‘are the end of orange people’, who elsewhere are defined as ‘god when She is shitting’. At Documenta 14 in Kassel, a selection of these works raised the dilemma (acute for the exhibition’s predominantly white European audience) of how to respond to the patent absurdity of such statements as White People Are the Cliffand What Comes After or Black People Are the Wet Grass at Morning (both 2001–02). The irresistible impulse to laugh is quickly overtaken by a commingled shame and anxiety. Isn’t it true, after a moment’s reflection, that historic injustices have been perpetrated in the name of racial definitions no less preposterous for having been supported by pseudosciences like phrenology or, let’s not forget, racist histories of art? And that equally imbecilic statements underpin the strain of identitarian politics that seems not only to persist in Europe and the United States but to be in the ascendant? And that people are dying as a consequence? So why was I laughing?

Pope.L Has Never Been More Urgent
by Jessica Lynne
Pope.L Has Never Been More Urgent
Frieze October 25, 2019

Since the late 1970s, Pope.L has worked in performance, video, drawing, installation, sculpture and teaching, troubling facile readings of the machinations that govern the relationships between race, labour, capitalism and materiality. His practice traverses genres in an attempt to reckon with everything from the tenuousness of Black masculinity in public space to the lingering economic effects of post-industrial America.

New York Now: Fall Exhibitions Feature Amy Sherald, Roy DeCarava, Wangechi Mutu, Melvin Edwards, Alvin Baltrop, and Ed Clark, Plus Betye Saar and Pope.L at the New MoMA
by Victoria L. Valentine
New York Now: Fall Exhibitions Feature Amy Sherald, Roy DeCarava, Wangechi Mutu, Melvin Edwards, Alvin Baltrop, and Ed Clark, Plus Betye Saar and Pope.L at the New MoMA
Culture Type October 25, 2019

Chicago-based Pope.L participated in the 2017 Whitney Biennial and won that year’s Bucksbaum Award. Following his project focused on the water crisis in Flint, Mich., he has created a new installation that further explores the use of water. “Choir” is “inspired by the fountain, the public arena, and John Cage’s conception of music and sound.” 

Goings On About The Town: Embodiment
by Andrea K. Scott
Goings On About The Town: Embodiment
The New Yorker October 21, 2019

The Chicago-based adept Pope.L is a triple threat in New York this fall, with concurrent shows at the Whitney and moma and a recent Public Art Fund performance for which some hundred and fifty participants put their bodies through punishing paces, re-creating one of his legendary mile-long crawls. Pope.L’s Manhattan gallery pays homage to his body-centric concerns in this dynamic exhibition, which combines text works from his series “Skin Sets” with paintings by a trio of young rising stars: Jonathan Lyndon Chase, Cheyenne Julien, and Tschabalala Self.

The Condition of ‘Have-Not-Ness’: Why Performance Artist Pope.L Puts His Body on the Line and Embraces Vulnerability
by Janelle Zara
The Condition of ‘Have-Not-Ness’: Why Performance Artist Pope.L Puts His Body on the Line and Embraces Vulnerability
artnet news September 26, 2019

In New York, verticality is the definitive modus operandi. Both buildings and people perpetually strive skyward, driven by tenuous dreams of upward mobility. “But, let us imagine,” the American artist Pope.L proposed to fellow artist Martha Wilson in 1996, “a person who has a job, possesses the means to remain vertical, but chooses momentarily to give up that verticality?”

I crawled down New York’s streets for Pope.L's Conquest performance
by Vanessa Thill
I crawled down New York’s streets for Pope.L's Conquest performance
The Art Newspaper September 25, 2019

I lowered my blindfold and got on my hands and knees. Walkie talkies beeped and clipboards clacked. “We’ll be right here if you need anything,” a staffer assured me, stowing my belongings in a rolling cart. “We want to make sure you are safe and comfortable.” I did feel relatively comfortable, considering I was about to crawl along a New York City sidewalk—blindfolded, holding a flashlight, and wearing only one shoe.

Pope.L’s Group Crawl: Protest, Pathos, Provocation
by Hilarie M. Sheets
Pope.L’s Group Crawl: Protest, Pathos, Provocation
The New York Times September 22, 2019

Five men and women, each missing a shoe and encumbered with a flashlight in one hand, came belly down to the ground. They began to crawl along the gritty, unsavory New York City sidewalk, led by a marshal perfuming the air and sweeping the ground before them — and serenaded by a trumpeter playing melancholic riffs. The procession stopped traffic and drew people out of shops and restaurants, wondering what was going on.

‘Someone’s Got to Suffer’: Pope.L’s Group Crawl Takes Over Manhattan
by Annie Armstrong
‘Someone’s Got to Suffer’: Pope.L’s Group Crawl Takes Over Manhattan
Art News September 21, 2019

The crawlers knew where to go by following the sound of a trumpet.

It was bright and early in New York at Corporal John A. Seravalli Playground when a group was congregating to kick off Conquest, artist Pope.L’s performance in which participants would drag themselves across a predetermined path. Organized by the Public Art Fund, this was a new work in a lineage of past “crawl” pieces by Pope.L, who was on hand on Saturday to tell the crowd that he hoped to cause a stir.

Pope.L Cements His Provocateur Status with Three Shows Across Manhattan
by Mandy Harris Williams
Pope.L Cements His Provocateur Status with Three Shows Across Manhattan
Cultured September 20, 2019

Conquest, Pope.L’s most recent performance project, engages his largest and most public cast to date. Commissioned by the Public Art Fund (PAF), the September 21st “crawl” is also more procedurally detailed, and more apparently and explicitly mocking, than previous crawls. When I spoke with Pope.L in late summer, he insisted he was not participating in the crawl, but just as soon acknowledged that he has never been able to keep himself from crawling, at least a little bit, alongside the participants.

140 people will crawl in the street from the West Village to Union Square this Saturday
by Howard Halle
140 people will crawl in the street from the West Village to Union Square this Saturday
TimeOut September 20, 2019

Starting at 9:45am on Saturday, winding up in the gutter will take on literal meaning as 140 complete strangers get on their bellies to crawl in the street while fellow New Yorkers cheer them on. No, this isn’t some mas[s]ochistic exercise: It’s a performance piece orchestrated by the multi-media artist known as Pope.L. Conquest, as it’s called, is part of a series of crawls that Pope.L has undertaken over his 40-year career, though it represents something of a departure, since he previously conducted them on his own.

Pope.L Begins His New York Fall Art Crawl
by Kristen Tauer
Pope.L Begins His New York Fall Art Crawl
Women's Wear Daily September 19, 2019

“I don’t know if you’ve ever crawled in New York, but being that low to the ground, you experience all kinds of things,” says Pope.L. And he would know — the 64-year-old performance artist has decades of experience crawling at this point. For his latest piece, “Conquest,” the Newark native recruited some 140 strangers from various boroughs, walks of life, ages, and abilities to crawl, in a relay format, the 25 city blocks from the Corporal John A. Seravalli Playground in the West Village to Union Square.

People will literally crawl on the streets of NYC this weekend
by Melkorka Licea
People will literally crawl on the streets of NYC this weekend
New York Post September 19, 2019

This Saturday, 140 New Yorkers will get down and seriously dirty in the filthy streets of Manhattan as they crawl on all fours for the sake of a bizarre performance piece about “physical privilege” by veteran “crawl artist” Pope.L.  Participants will provide onlookers with an unsettling scene as they slither along a winding, 1 1/2-mile route that starts at Cpl. John A. Seravalli Playground in the West Village and ends on the south steps of Union Square Park, according to a press release.

With solo shows at MoMA, the Whitney, and a momentous public performance, Pope L.'s New York moment is set to last
by Coco Fusco
With solo shows at MoMA, the Whitney, and a momentous public performance, Pope L.'s New York moment is set to last
Art Basel September 19, 2019

The interdisciplinary artist Pope.L is the creator of several now-legendary performance-art works that explore the conditions of abjection, black masculinity, and racism with bracing irony. On September 21, 2019, he will orchestrate his latest iteration of these pieces in Lower Manhattan: Entitled Conquest, this performance will involve 140 participants. 

Pope.L Has a Perfect Explanation for Anyone Stumped by His Huge ‘Group Crawl’ Performance
by Helen Holmes
Pope.L Has a Perfect Explanation for Anyone Stumped by His Huge ‘Group Crawl’ Performance
Observer September 18, 2019

As New York’s museums and galleries gear up for their fall and winter rosters, there’s a seasonal sense of anticipation that accompanies all these interlocking proceedings. You never know who or what will emerge from the flurry of offerings to produce something truly essential, and it’s clear that the Whitney Museum of American art, MoMA and the Public Art Fund are confident that “Instigation, Aspiration and Perspiration,” their collective exhibition with the interventionist performance artist Pope.L, will prove to be a deeply thoughtful project. Born in Newark, NJ, Pope.L has spent decades making art that interrogates what cities can produce and who metropolitan areas can disempower. 

The T List: What to Visit, Eat and Know About This Week
by M.H. Miller
The T List: What to Visit, Eat and Know About This Week
The New York Times Style Magazine September 18, 2019

Since the 1970s, the artist known as Pope.L has made works that explore racism, poverty, class inequality and consumerism in ways that are sometimes satirical, often biting, but always strangely moving. He is best identified by his “crawls,” in which he drags himself, positioned on his stomach — occasionally dressed in a business suit or as Superman, either alone or with a large group of participants — along the path of a city street. His most ambitious performance of this nature will be on Saturday in New York City: More than 100 people will crawl a one-and-a-half-mile-long route from the West Village to Union Square, passing through the arch of Washington Square Park. 

140 People Will Crawl Through The Village In Performance Piece
by Sydney Pereira
140 People Will Crawl Through The Village In Performance Piece
Patch September 18, 2019

A performance piece in which 140 people will crawl through Greenwich Village is set for Saturday — recreating the artist Pope.L's iconic crawling pieces in New York City.

The performance piece, called "Conquest," forces hand-selected volunteers from a variety of professional backgrounds to crawl through Manhattan's sidewalks, "abandoning their physical privilege, embracing their vulnerability, and expressing the power of collective expression."

Intrepid Art Of Pope.L Takes Over New York, Crawling Through The West Village, Spilling And Crashing Into The Whitney And Sprawling Through The MoMA
by Natasha Gural
Intrepid Art Of Pope.L Takes Over New York, Crawling Through The West Village, Spilling And Crashing Into The Whitney And Sprawling Through The MoMA
Forbes September 18, 2019

Pope.L: Instigation, Aspiration, Perspiration, an ambitious triumvirate of exhibitions by the Public Art Fund, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and The Museum of Modern Art, erupts Saturday with Conquest, his biggest group performance, involving some 140 to 160 people representing the city’s diversity in every manner from race and socioeconomics to range of mobility.

Here Are 3 Group Shows You Won’t Want to Miss This September
artnet Gallery Network
Here Are 3 Group Shows You Won’t Want to Miss This September
Artnet News September 17, 2019

This sensuous group show brings together works by Pope.L, Jonathan Lyndon Chase, Cheyenne Julien, and Tschabalala Self to explore the various ways the concept of “corporeality” can be captured in two-dimensional spaces.  The options are plentiful: there are the highly personal physical experiences of the body (in play, at rest, at work) in the creations of Chase and Julien alongside Self’s powerful depictions of the black female form that challenge and engage society’s role in constructing identity with one’s own body, as well as those of others. This sense of physicality need not even be visually manifest—Pope.L’s absurdist text series “Skin Sets” employ nonsensical phrases to reference people of color (blue, green, brown, black, and gold), which play with mental associations regarding race and visibility.

Manhattan Happenings, Week of Sept. 19, 2019
by Alejandra O'Connell-Domenech and Gabe Herman
Manhattan Happenings, Week of Sept. 19, 2019
The Villager September 17, 2019

Pope.L will give a Public Art Fund Talk on Fri., Sept. 20, from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., at The Cooper Union, Rose Auditorium, 41 Cooper Union Square, at E. Sixth St. Visual artist and educator Pope.L’s lecture coincides with a major moment for him, when three New York City arts organizations — Public Art Fund, Whitney Museum of American Art and The Museum of Modern Art — will co-present “Instigation, Aspiration, Perspiration,” the title of a singular concept linking a trio of complementary exhibitions: “Conquest,” “Choir” and “member,” which explore Pope.L’s boundary-pushing practice. 

‘Whatever Is Said Here, Stays Here’: New York Gallerist Courtney Willis Blair on Founding a Supper Club for Black Women in the Art World
by Rachel Gould
‘Whatever Is Said Here, Stays Here’: New York Gallerist Courtney Willis Blair on Founding a Supper Club for Black Women in the Art World
Artnet News September 16, 2019

On September 12, Mitchell-Innes & Nash unveiled “Embodiment,” a new group exhibition of work by mixed media painter Tschabalala Self, intervention artist Pope.L, and painters Cheyenne Julien and Jonathan Lyndon Chase. An investigation into the unbounded potential of corporeal representation, “Embodiment” explores these four talents’ approaches to portraying the human form.

“’Embodiment’ came together about a year ago, when I started thinking about the exaggerated body [in relation to] architecture and familiar public spaces in urban neighborhoods, like the bodega, for example, or the stoop,” Blair explains. “I’ve always been really interested in the expression of figuration, and I love language, having worked with it [as a writer].”

The Best and Biggest Art Shows to See to This Fall From JR, Amy Sherald, Pope.L, and more.
By Jerry Saltz and Carl Swanson
The Best and Biggest Art Shows to See to This Fall From JR, Amy Sherald, Pope.L, and more.
Vulture September 11, 2019

Jacolby Satterwhite: “You’re at Home” (Pioneer Works; 10/4–11/24) Promises a millennial-nostalgia house of horrors, or at least submerged longings. He’s building an immersive installation of video projections, virtual reality, and “a retail store styled to resemble a defunct Tower Records” to lose yourself in once you’ve made it all the way to Red Hook.

The Best and Biggest Art Shows to See to This Fall From JR, Amy Sherald, Pope.L, and more.
by Jerry Saltz
The Best and Biggest Art Shows to See to This Fall From JR, Amy Sherald, Pope.L, and more.
Vulture September 11, 2019

After winning the Whitney’s $100,000 Bucksbaum Award in 2017, Pope.L hits the New York institutional trifecta with an extravaganza of three upcoming shows. The Museum of Modern Art will mount a retrospective of the activist-sculptor-painter-provocateur’s work from 1978 to 2001 — including videos of the epic crawls he did on his belly through the streets of New York City dressed as an African-American superhero. Also stay tuned for a mass performance of over 100 volunteers of all races crawling together through the Washington Square arch to Union Square.

23 Essential New York Museum Shows to See This Fall, From Vija Celmins at the Met to Pope.L at MoMA
By Sarah Cascone & Caroline Goldstein
23 Essential New York Museum Shows to See This Fall, From Vija Celmins at the Met to Pope.L at MoMA
artnet news September 9, 2019

We’ve already put together guides to knockout institutional shows to see across the US this fall and what you need to check out in Europe, so now it’s time to take a look at what’s going on this season in museums in New York, where you’re never far from a great exhibition.

African-American Artists Will Deliver a Tidal Wave of Compelling Work This Fall
by Julie Belcove
African-American Artists Will Deliver a Tidal Wave of Compelling Work This Fall
Robb Report September 7, 2019

This September, as galleries and museums hope to kick off the fall art season with a bang, African-American artists are leading the most highly anticipated openings. Betye Saar has a show at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, followed by one next month at the Museum of Modern Art. Pope.L will be triply honored in New York, with exhibitions at the Whitney Museum of American Art and, in October, MoMA; he’ll also present one of his grueling performances, organized by the Public Art Fund.

THE SEPTEMBER OPENINGS: NEW YORK’S MUST-SEE SHOWS
by Dean Kissick
THE SEPTEMBER OPENINGS: NEW YORK’S MUST-SEE SHOWS
Cultured Magazine September 4, 2019

ART IN THE 2010S… IS IT EVEN ART? WHAT WILL BE REMEMBERED? WHAT’S BEING REAPPRAISED? WHAT’S COMING NEXT? WHAT MUST WE SAY GOODBYE TO? FOR THE LAST TIME THIS DECADE, LET’S WELCOME A NEW SEASON OF SHOWS IN NEW YORK.

“POPE.L: CONQUEST,” “POPE.L: CHOIR,” AND “MEMBER: POPE.L 1978–2001.”
by Yxta Maya Murray
“POPE.L: CONQUEST,” “POPE.L: CHOIR,” AND “MEMBER: POPE.L 1978–2001.”
ArtForum September 2019

In 1991, the artist Pope.L dragged himself and a potted flower through Tompkins Square Park (Tompkins Square Crawl). The next year, while wearing a Santa hat, he spent three days trying to lift a bottle of laxatives with his mind (Levitating the Magnesia). In 2000, he gorged on copies of the Wall Street Journal and then puked them up (Eating the Wall Street Journal). In 2015, he raised a giant US flag in Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art, where it flew until it began to fray (Trinket).

AN rounds up must-see exhibitions to catch this summer
by the Editors
AN rounds up must-see exhibitions to catch this summer
The Architect's Newspaper July 31, 2019

New York’s Public Art Fund will present Pope.L’s most ambitious participatory project yet. Pope.L: Conquest will involve over one hundred volunteers, who will relay-crawl 1.5 miles from Manhattan’s West Village to Union Square. According to the Public Art Fund, participants will “give up their physical privilege” and “satirize their own social and political advantage, creating a comic scene of struggle and vulnerability to share with the entire community.”

Why the Whitney, MoMA and Public Art Fund are Uniting for an Exhibition About Artist Pope.L
by Clayton Schuster
Why the Whitney, MoMA and Public Art Fund are Uniting for an Exhibition About Artist Pope.L
Observer July 25, 2019

This fall, Manhattan’s most prestigious contemporary art spaces unite to celebrate the career-to-date of the renowned (and underappreciated) artist known as Pope.L.

Pope.L Wants You to Crawl Across New York With Him
By Zachary Small
Pope.L Wants You to Crawl Across New York With Him
HYPERALLERGIC July 24, 2019

In a little less than two months, you may see a squadron of New Yorkers slithering through the triumphal arch of Washington Square Park on their hands and knees.

Prepare yourself, because William Pope.L is coming to town.

Art Industry News: This Artist Wants You to Crawl Through the Filthy Streets of New York With Him + Other Stories
artnet news
Art Industry News: This Artist Wants You to Crawl Through the Filthy Streets of New York With Him + Other Stories
artnet news July 23, 2019

Pope.L Wants You to Crawl With Him – The storied performance artist Pope.L is looking for 100 volunteers to crawl a 1.5 mile course with him across New York, from the West Village through the triumphal arch in Washington Square Park to Union Square, on September 21. The artist says the performance, titled Conquest and organized with the Public Art Fund, is “an absurd journey to an uncertain goal.” Pope.L has been doing his physically demanding crawls since the 1970s as a way to evoke the extreme exposure that homeless people experience on the streets of the city.

Volunteers wanted to crawl with performance artist Pope.L
By Helen Stoilas
Volunteers wanted to crawl with performance artist Pope.L
The Art Newspaper July 22, 2019

The artist Pope.L, who has a trio of shows opening this autumn at three major New York Museums, will put out an open call this month for 100 volunteers to take part in a 1.5-mile performative crawl across the city, presented by the Public Art Fund on 21 September.

Five Monumental Art Projects That Happened Thanks to Kickstarter (and You)
by Vivien Lee
Five Monumental Art Projects That Happened Thanks to Kickstarter (and You)
Observer May 2, 2019

Teaming up with the gallery What Pipeline in Detroit, Chicago-based conceptual artist Pope.L created an installation, performance and artistic intervention that called attention to the Flint Water crisis using funds from his Kickstarter campaign. Water, contaminated with lead, E.coli and listeria, was purchased from the homes of Flint residents to be bottled and sold at the gallery as part of a performance installation educating audiences about the ongoing crisis.

When Performance Art Takes to the Street, the Results Are Moving
by Jackson Arn
When Performance Art Takes to the Street, the Results Are Moving
Artsy April 8, 2019

The Chicago-based artist Pope.L has been known to stage wild, eye-opening stunts in the streets. “By bringing his performances to the streets,” wrote Nick Stillman in the Brooklyn Rail, “minus the hanging-on and hullabaloo of the art world, Pope.L promises the potential to connect directly with pedestrians.” In 1991, he had a cameraman film him crawling through the gutters of Tompkins Square Park, and for his piece The Great White Way (2001–09), he crawled down all 22 miles of Broadway. 

Arts Power 50: The Changemakers Shaping the Art World in 2019
by Paddy Johnson, Mary von Aue, Juliet Helmke, Sissi Cao and Helen Holmes
Arts Power 50: The Changemakers Shaping the Art World in 2019
Observer April 1, 2019

It’s not often an artist sees the launch of three major exhibitions in the same city at the same time. This fall, though, Pope.L, a performance and installation artist known for his scathing and unsettling critiques of race and power, will see it happen.

His long-overdue major MoMA retrospective opens this October and will focus on 13 performance pieces made between 1978 and 2001. Pope.L will simultaneously present a newly-commissioned installation for the Whitney Museum of American Art this fall and execute his largest and most ambitious crawl performance yet for Public Art Fund. Pope.L says he also plans to produce a special version of the play Rachel by Angelina Weld Grimke.

The Most Influential Living African-American Artists
by Artsy Editors
The Most Influential Living African-American Artists
Artsy February 25, 2019

In 1926, the historian Carter G. Woodson instituted Negro History Week. The second-ever African-American recipient of a Ph.D. from Harvard (after W.E.B. DuBois), Woodson wanted to acknowledge the vibrant cultural achievements of African-American individuals that were rippling through the country. At the time, Harlem was brimming with poets such as Langston Hughes and Claude McKay, while Louis Armstrong and Fats Waller were developing Chicago’s jazz scene. In 1976, President Gerald Ford officially transformed Woodson’s initiative into the month-long celebration we honor to this day: Black History Month.

MoMA, the New Edition: From Monumental to Experimental
Press
MoMA, the New Edition: From Monumental to Experimental
The New York Times February 5, 2019

A second show, a career survey of the African-American artist who now goes by one name, Pope.L, has the potential to put a welcome crack in MoMA’s high-polish veneer. In the past, this artist has belly-crawled the length of Manhattan, ingested entire issues of The Wall Street Journal, and created odoriferous installations from baloney and Pop-Tarts. Abject matter — stuff that rots, stinks and oozes — has historically been MoMA’s least favorite medium. I look forward to seeing how Pope.L, who once billed himself as “The Friendliest Black Artist in America,” will fare here.

Pope.L and Adam Pendleton: “Art Can Mobilize Your Body”
by Emily Gosling
Pope.L and Adam Pendleton: “Art Can Mobilize Your Body”
Elephant February 1, 2019

Pope.L and Adam Pendleton are two artists creating powerful, political works in very different media, but with shared goals and approaches. As a new show opens of their work, they tell us more about working together and why language is “both a mechanism of escape but also a trap”.

“No Thing: Pope.L, Adam Pendleton” at Galerie Eva Presenhuber, Zurich
by Tillmann Severin
“No Thing: Pope.L, Adam Pendleton” at Galerie Eva Presenhuber, Zurich
Mousse Magazine February 1, 2019

Since the 1970s, Pope.L (b. 1955 in Newark, New Jersey) has created a multidisciplinary oeuvre, including performance, installation, painting, drawing, sculpture, objects, and writing. Pope.L creates scenarios and poetics in order to address issues of category and identicalness usually parlayed via his interest in language, nation, gender, race, and class. In his “crawls,” one of his best-known performance sets, Pope.L literally crawls – alone or with other participants – through the hallways of buildings and city streets. In doing so, he draws attention to marginalized positions in society, and to the contradictions and double-binds through which we perceive ourselves and others. His performances often involve local citizens and thus build temporary communities who share the experience and struggle.

ART CITIES: Zurich-Pope.L & Adam Pendleton
By Dimitrtis Lempesis
ART CITIES: Zurich-Pope.L & Adam Pendleton
dreamideamachine ART VIEW February 1, 2019

For almost four decades, Pope.L has challenged us to confront some of the most pressing questions about American society as well as about the very nature of art. Best known for enacting arduous and provocative interventions in public spaces, Pope.L addresses issues and themes ranging from language to gender, race, social struggle, and community. Adam Pendleton is a conceptual artist known for his multi-disciplinary practice, which moves fluidly. His work centers on an engagement with language, in both the figurative and literal senses, and the re-contextualization of history through appropriated imagery to establish alternative interpretations of the present.

'Pope.L: The Escape' reworks a slavery play as performance art and dares you to wonder what to think about it
by Steve Johnson
'Pope.L: The Escape' reworks a slavery play as performance art and dares you to wonder what to think about it
Chicago Tribune November 16, 2018

The performance artist Pope.L is asking a lot of Art Institute audiences these days. His “experimental restaging” of a slavery narrative credited as the oldest surviving African-American play moves the few dozen attendees and performers from the bowels of the museum’s Rubloff Auditorium to its sound booth to, in one memorable, pungent moment, its women’s bathroom.

9 Art Events to Attend in New York City This Week
Press
9 Art Events to Attend in New York City This Week
ArtNews October 29, 2018

Martha Rosler’s first major New York museum show surveys her career by way of installations, photographs, videos, and sculptures. Among the themes addressed are war and consumerism, with a special eye toward gender norms and oppression. Curator Darsie Alexander said of the exhibition, “Martha Rosler’s direct, unvarnished take on current social and political circumstances is rooted in her belief in the capacity of art to teach, provoke, and ultimately motivate action in the people it reaches.”
 

From Joan Mitchell’s Early Works to Daniel Arsham’s Dystopian Future: 45 Can’t-Miss Gallery Shows in New York This September
By Sarah Cascone & Caroline Goldstein
From Joan Mitchell’s Early Works to Daniel Arsham’s Dystopian Future: 45 Can’t-Miss Gallery Shows in New York This September
Artnet News August 30, 2019

In this follow up to his similarly named solo show at La Panacee museum in Montpellier, Pope.L presents works—including a selection of “Re-Photo” collages, his Syllogism video project, and wall-mounted assemblage sculptures in acrylic boxes—that he describes as “a disgustingly neat pile of doubt, experiment, and denial shoved up hot against claim, leap, gambit, and caesura.”

Loaded with Symbolism, a Fountain Sculpture by Pope.L is Among New Acquisitions at Carnegie Museum of Art
By Victoria L. Valentine
Loaded with Symbolism, a Fountain Sculpture by Pope.L is Among New Acquisitions at Carnegie Museum of Art
culture type July 29, 2018

Earlier this month, the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh announced several new acquisitions, including “Fountain (reparations version)” (2016-17) by Chicago-based Pope.L. The sculpture is on view in the modern and contemporary galleries which have been re-hung to reflect the “depth, diversity, and eccentricities” of the Carnegie Museum’s collection.

Answering Society’s Thorniest Questions, With Performance Art
By Megan O'Grady
Answering Society’s Thorniest Questions, With Performance Art
T Magazine March 2, 2018

At 62, Pope.L is inarguably the greatest performance artist of our time. This is exactly the kind of label he would find absurd, but over the course of the last four decades, no artist has so consistently broken down the accepted boundaries of the genre in order to bring it closer to the public, with lacerating, perspicacious and gloriously anti-authoritarian projects that play with our received notions of race and class and almost always cut more than one way. 

Pope.L in conversation with Ross Simonini
Press
Pope.L in conversation with Ross Simonini
The Believer January 2018

The following interview—my second with Pope.L—was conducted through email correspondence over several months. His responses are written with the freewheeling, contradic- tory energy of his art, with both stuttered emotional reac- tions and carefully parsed explanations.

The 20 Most Influential Artists of 2017
Artsy
The 20 Most Influential Artists of 2017
By Artsy Editors December 15, 2017

The prevailing memory of the 2017 Whitney Biennial will likely be the outrage over Dana Schutz’s painting of Emmett Till, but it would be a shame if that overshadowed Pope.L’s strange, complicated, and typically irreverent 2017 work, Claim (Whitney Version). A large, pink-colored cube, the installation was festooned with pieces of bologna, as well as small photographic portraits of what the artist claimed were Jewish people. (“Fortified wine” was also used as a material.) The enigmatic work proves especially complex amidst the current resurgence of identity politics, and in June, it netted the artist the coveted Bucksbaum Award.

Artworks from Two Museums Share a Space, But Not a Conversation
by Seph Rodney
Artworks from Two Museums Share a Space, But Not a Conversation
HYPERALLERGIC November 8, 2017

But there is a juxtaposition in the exhibition that saves me from the disappointment I’m left with, where Pope L. has interjected one of his text pieces. Most of these pieces by Pope L. are displayed in the entranceways between galleries, and they felt too editorial for me, like comments in the comment section of an online article. 

Post-Truth Detroit
by Wendy Vogel
Post-Truth Detroit
Frieze November 8, 2017

Detroit and its surrounding areas present a case study in urban decline – one that has spurred many artists to work directly with local communities. In Flint, Michigan, for example – a once-thriving industrial city and now a symbol of post-industrial neglect and government corruption – an ongoing crisis over contaminated water has prompted several artist responses.

The Politics of Adversity in Pope.L’s Flint Water Project
by Natalie Haddad
The Politics of Adversity in Pope.L’s Flint Water Project
HYPERALLERGIC October 28, 2017

Flint Water Project, supported by the Knight Foundation as part of the Knight Arts Challenge and a Kickstarter campaign, came about when What Pipeline invited Pope.L to create a project in Detroit. The Kickstarter page states, “When Pope.L was asked by What Pipeline to do a commission for Detroit, he felt that whatever he did it should not re-victimize the city as had been done too often in the past. What if Detroit could be the hero and come to the rescue of another Midwest city in need?”

Pope.L’s Conceptual Bottled Water Project Calls Attention to the Crisis in Flint
By Sarah Rose Sharp
Pope.L’s Conceptual Bottled Water Project Calls Attention to the Crisis in Flint
HYPERALLERGIC October 17, 2017
Selling Flint's water? Art installation raises funds and awareness for Flint, Detroit water victims
By MATTHEW PIPER
Selling Flint's water? Art installation raises funds and awareness for Flint, Detroit water victims
Model D October 10, 2017

And yet, the "Flint Water Project" cannot be separated from the potential impact it may have outside of the gallery or the homes of individual collectors. Three years after it became widely known, the Flint water crisis is, after all, ongoing, and the human costs are all too real. (The water being bottled and sold at What Pipeline comes from the home of Flint resident Tiantha Williams, whose young son was born prematurely due to complications from her consumption of Flint water during pregnancy.) 

William Pope.L: Proto Skin Set
By Alan Gilbert
William Pope.L: Proto Skin Set
The Brooklyn Rail July 14, 2017

From his earliest works made as an undergraduate, which include fiction, plays, song lyrics, etc., that were retroactively organized under the title Communications Devices, Pope.L has wrestled with language as communication, while illustrating a profound understanding that language is not a transparent medium. Neither is race, however often it’s looked through. Instead, Pope.L makes the surfaces of his work murky and obdurate, highlighting their visibility while also obscuring them. 

Pope.L to Bottle Contaminated Flint Water and Sell It in Detroit
Press
Pope.L to Bottle Contaminated Flint Water and Sell It in Detroit
Artforum August 9, 2017

Chicago-based artist Pope.L, who recently won the 2017 Bucksbaum Award for his work in this year’s Whitney Biennial, is raising funds on Kickstarter for an interventionist installation and performance piece that calls attention to the water crisis in Flint, Michigan. For Flint Water Project, the artist will purchase and bottle 150 gallons of polluted water from Flint residents. He will then sell the bottles as limited edition artworks in Detroit.

Pope.L Is Raising Funds to Bottle, Sell Flint Water
By Andrew Russeth
Pope.L Is Raising Funds to Bottle, Sell Flint Water
Artnews August 8, 2017

“When Pope.L was asked by What Pipeline to do a commission for Detroit,” the Kickstarter proposal reads, “he felt that whatever he did it should not re-victimize the city as had been done too often in the past. What if Detroit could be the hero and come to the rescue of another midwest city in need?” It adds, at another point, “The goals for his work are several: joy, money, and uncertainty—not necessarily in that order.”

Highlights from Documenta 14
Press
Highlights from Documenta 14
Modern Painters June/July 2017

For this performance piece that will run 24 hours a day for the entire course of the exhibition, artist Pope.L enlisted performers to wander around both Athens and Kassel whispering fictional texts penned by the artist, randomly generated series of numbers, and folk songs from the 1930s to themselves while publish audio speakers in both cities play similar content. 

The Expansive Provocateur Pope.L, in Smaller, Potent Doses
by Roberta Smith
The Expansive Provocateur Pope.L, in Smaller, Potent Doses
The New York Times June 29, 2017

The esteemed multidisciplinary artist Pope.L is having a moment. His contribution to Documenta 14, the prestigious international exhibition in Kassel, Germany — and this year also in Athens — is the slyly subversive “Whispering Campaign,” featuring performers who walk the streets of both cities, confiding in strangers the artist’s elliptical yet biting aphorisms about race and color from his word- based “Skin Set” drawings. Last month, Pope.L’s “Claim (Whitney Version),” a beautiful vexing installation featuring an enormous pastel-colored room festooned with slices of baloney, received the Bucksbaum Award as a “boundary-breaking” work in the recent Whitney Biennial. 

Goings On About Town
Press
Goings On About Town
The New Yorker June 2017

The conceptual artist, who was recently awarded the Bucksbaum Prize for his piece in the Whitney Biennial, is best known for confrontationally absurdist public performances. But this show of early work highlights his gift for combining text, found imagery, and evocative materials. In some of his assemblages, smeared peanut butter, like impasto pigment, frames magazine clippings, such as one that reads “Now You Can Bring Black History Home” and features a photo of African-American schoolchildren reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. In the sardonic, Rauschenbergian “Crawling to Richard Pryor’s House,” from 1994, a froglike, brown stuffed animal, sandwiched by paint and wood glue on a board, also bears a fragmentary, appropriated image of a child. Pope.L has a knack for drawing out the scatological qualities of gestural painting, the abject potential of collage, and the rhetorical power of color to expose the psychosexual substrate of American racism.

'Invisible Man' Inspires Conceptual Art About Blackness
By ANTWAUN SARGENT
'Invisible Man' Inspires Conceptual Art About Blackness
Creators June 21, 2017

Pope.L's installation Pedestal, a Elkay drinking fountain deconstructed and hung from the ceiling, alludes to the segregated black and white drinking fountains installed throughout the South during Jim Crow. The work releases water into a hole in the gallery's floor every two-and-a-half minutes. The gesture alludes to Pope.L's "Hole Theory." In a book titled after the theory, the artist writes, "Hole Theory engages lack/Across economic and cultural/And political boundaries/[Lack is where it's AT]." Pope.L's theory is rooted in the social conditions of 1980s black life, the drugs that flooded the community, the jobs that left it, and the culture, like Hip-hop, that sprung from the era's black rage.

How Do You Conserve Art Made of Bologna, or Bubble Gum, or Soap?
by Jacoba Urist
How Do You Conserve Art Made of Bologna, or Bubble Gum, or Soap?
The Atlantic June 9, 2017

But among the questions it presents, Claim, more than other artwork in the Biennial, stresses the unique problems museums and collectors face as contemporary art grows more ambitious in its materials: how to conserve works made of substances meant to last for several days or weeks. After all, it’s difficult to imagine bologna portraits transcending millennia like a classical marble bust or centuries like a Rembrandt. Getting a sculpture made of deli meat to survive the decade could even be a stretch. While Claim may be an extreme case of perishable art, Pope L. is far from alone.  

15 Documenta Artists with Staying Power
by Alexander Forbes
15 Documenta Artists with Staying Power
Artsy June 9, 1017

Walk through Kassel for long enough (which you certainly will if you come to to this sprawling exhibition) and you’ll find yourself spinning around at least once looking for the source of a disembodied voice. It’s most likely not a monster from the Kassel-born Brothers Grimm haunting the city, but instead a work by Whitney Biennial and now documenta favorite Pope.L. 

Careful Whisper: Pope.L Discusses His Documenta Sound Work, Hidden Across Kassel
By Nate Freeman
Careful Whisper: Pope.L Discusses His Documenta Sound Work, Hidden Across Kassel
ARTnews June 8, 2017

“It’s a really large enterprise, and this go-around it’s even more difficult to encompass,” Pope.L, who shows at Mitchell-Innes & Nash in New York, said while sitting next to me at L’Osteria’s zinc bar with free pistachios. “But I’ve been making works for the past ten years, maybe longer, where my intent is to make something that even I can’t encompass myself. So it felt perfectly within that agenda.

Pope.L wins 2017 Whitney Museum Bucksbaum Award
Press
Pope.L wins 2017 Whitney Museum Bucksbaum Award
Apollo June 5, 2017

Pope.L wins 2017 Whitney Museum Bucksbaum Award | Chicago-based artist Pope.L is the 2017 winner of the Whitney Museum’s annual Bucksbaum Award. The $100,000 prize goes to Pope.L, also known as William Pope.L, for his contribution to this year’s Whitney Biennial: Claim (Whitney Version) (2017), an installation containing 2,755 slices of bologna.

Pope.L Wins Whitney Museum’s $100,000 Bucksbaum Award
By Alex Greenberger
Pope.L Wins Whitney Museum’s $100,000 Bucksbaum Award
ArtNews June 2, 2017

“The Bucksbaum Award recognizes extraordinary artists whose works are inventive, urgent, and promise to be enduring,” Mary E. Bucksbaum Scanlan—the daughter of the prize’s namesake, Melva Bucksbaum, who died in 2015—said in a statement. “I am proud that this tradition continues with the first Biennial in the Whitney’s downtown home by honoring Pope.L, a singular artist in a class of his own.”

William Pope.L Wins 2017 Bucksbaum Award
Press
William Pope.L Wins 2017 Bucksbaum Award
Artforum June 2, 2017

The multidisciplinary artist Pope.L (also known as William Pope.L) has been named the recipient of the 2017 Bucksbaum Award, which recognizes an artist whose work was featured in the recent Whitney Biennial. Previous winners include Sarah Michelson and Zoe Leonard.

What to See in New York Art Galleries This Week | Pope.L at Martos Gallery
By WILL HEINRICH
What to See in New York Art Galleries This Week | Pope.L at Martos Gallery
The New York Times May 25, 2017

Every two-and-a-half minutes exactly, Pope.L’s “Pedestal,” an upside-down water fountain bolted to the ceiling, releases a thin jet of water into a hole in the floor. It’s a disquieting meditation on the nature of time — endlessly replenished but endlessly fleeting — made more ominous by “Well (elh version),” a series of small ledges bearing water glasses that must be topped up with eyedroppers every day by gallery staff.

William Pope.L weighs in on art and social change
By Paul Laster
William Pope.L weighs in on art and social change
Time Out New York May 23, 2017

Best known for absurdist public performances, Pope.L has a history of dealing with the politics of race and identity—which the African-American artist doesn’t limit to black versus white: His installation at the 2017 Whitney Biennial, for instance, consists of a four-sided structure covered with rows of rotting bologna slices meant to represent the percentage of Jews in New York City. With a solo show opening in midtown, Pope.L talks about his fascination with the relationship between words and pictures, his fondness for quirky materials and the importance of truth in his art.

This Week’s Must-See Art Events
By Michael Anthony Farley
This Week’s Must-See Art Events
ArtFCity May 22, 2017

A friend and I recently had a conversation about the trend of galleries putting together shows of famous artist’s lesser-known works from yesteryear and writing a vague exhibition text to explain why they’re important. Here, that means “an exhibition of early work by Pope.L dating from 1979-1994 that demonstrates the function of materiality and language in his practice.”

While that sentence doesn’t really say anything, we’re guessing this show will be good because Pope.L is a genius and the racial politics he’s addressed in his work since 1979 are sadly still all-too-relevant today. We’re guessing “the function of materiality and language” will always be “relevant” until we’re all telepathically linked by some Elon Musk gadget.

9 Art Events to Attend in New York City this Week
by The Editors of ARTnews
9 Art Events to Attend in New York City this Week
ARTNEWS May 22, 2017

On view at Mitchell- Innes & Nash will be Pope.L’s “Proto- Skin Sets,” made between 1979 and 1994 and never before publicly exhibited. Combining text and odd materials like semen, peanut butter, and hair, these works reflect on black history and how identity gets constructed. Also in this exhibition will be “Communications Devices,” a set of works form the 1970s in which Pope.L wrote on postcards from SoHo gallery shows, copied these promotional materials, and then left stacks of them in galleries. 

May Exhibitions: Mark Bradford Reps U.S. at Venice Biennale, Martine Syms at MoMA, Plus Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, Pope.L, Beauford Delaney, Kehinde Wiley, and More
By Victoria L. Valentine
May Exhibitions: Mark Bradford Reps U.S. at Venice Biennale, Martine Syms at MoMA, Plus Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, Pope.L, Beauford Delaney, Kehinde Wiley, and More
Culture Type May 8, 2017

Generally made with pen and ink on graph paper, Pope.L’s Skin Set works from the late 1990s and into the 2010s offer sharp, sometimes witty critiques of the absurdity of racial stereotypes and references to skin color (i.e “Black People are the Window and the Breaking of the Window,” “Blue People Cannot Conceive of Themselves,” “White People Are Angles on Fire”). This exhibition of early works executed on local newspapers, billboards, and advertisements anticipates the artist’s Skin Set works. In a series of works dating from 1979-1994, Pope.L explores issues including race and masculinity and the function of language and materiality in his practice. The artist is also currently presenting work in the Whitney Biennial.

is the controversial Whitney Biennial just a bunch of bologna?
By Yevgeniya Traps
is the controversial Whitney Biennial just a bunch of bologna?
forward April 10, 2017

Certainty is only a claim, like the title of another perplexing piece in the Biennial. A re-creation of an earlier installation at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia, “Claim (Whitney Version)” by the artist Pope.L, aka William Pope.L, is a grid of 2,755 slices of bologna, each one affixed with a photocopied image, a blurry face, and corresponding, in total, to a percentage of New York’s Jewish population. The artist’s “claim,” made in an accompanying text, may be “a bit off,” he concedes. Such claims are bologna.

Whitney Biennial 2017
by Andrianna Campbell
Whitney Biennial 2017
Mousse Magazine April 2017

The curators, Mia Locks and Christopher Lew, have laid out a daring exhibition that is representative of a broad swath of the population. At its center is Pope.L (aka William Pope.L)’s Claim (Whitney Version) (2017), a pink box on the outside slathered mint green on the inside. Pinned with 2,755 slices of bologna, each slice has a photocopy portrait of a person affixed to it. PopeL. claims the slices are consistent with a percentage of New York City’s 1,086,000 Jewish residents. 

Conceptually, the luscious degradation and lingering stink points to anxieties about identity at the heart of the exhibition and indeed the greater culture in the United States. 

documenta 14: Athens Conservatoire
BY HARRY THORNE
documenta 14: Athens Conservatoire
Frieze April 7, 2017

Pope.L’s Whispering Campaign (2016-17), installed in various forms across seven Athenian venues, preserves and passes on fragmented narrative artifacts, reinvesting in the art of hearing and being heard. At the Conservatoire, the campaign takes the form of a turquoise safe, which stands unassumingly in a corner. Its door remains locked, its contents out of site, but, if you pass it at an opportune moment, you will hear the dulcet tones of a singer from the southern US emanating from within. The figure himself is absent, his voice distorted over time, but his story is there to be preserved, if you want it. 

Forget That White Lady’s Emmett Till Painting; These Black Artists Are Truly Representing at the Whitney Biennial
By Genetta M. Adams
Forget That White Lady’s Emmett Till Painting; These Black Artists Are Truly Representing at the Whitney Biennial
The Root April 6, 2017

Multimedia artist Pope.L’s installation, Claim (Whitney Version), features 2,755 slices of bologna pinned to its wall, and each slice bears a portrait of someone who is supposedly Jewish. The piece raises questions of collective identity and how people turn abstract when reduced to numbers. Within the structure is a typewritten statement, with copy-edit marks from the artists, that ponders whether the rotting, dripping bologna represents “the flesh returning back to world” or maybe the slices are “mourning a haunted order.”

The Tao of Szymczyk: documenta 14 Curator Says to Understand His Show, Forget Everything You Know
By Hili Perlson
The Tao of Szymczyk: documenta 14 Curator Says to Understand His Show, Forget Everything You Know
Artnet News April 6, 2017

The opening-week program spans a list of performances too long to reprint, but some highlights will surely be provided by the likes of Sanja Iveković, who is creating a “creative oral document” at Avdi Square every day from 11 am to 9 pm; Pope.L, whose multi-part performance will happen across “five to six public spaces” over five hours; or sex activist Annie Sprinkle, who also participated in the pre-program in Athens with a lecture on the pleasures of water.

Politics and performance take centre stage at Documenta 14 in Athens
by JULIA MICHALSKA
Politics and performance take centre stage at Documenta 14 in Athens
The Art Newspaper April 6, 2017

In Athens, the Documenta team is collaborating with around 40 local institutions, including the Benaki Museum, the Archaeological Museum of Piraeus, the Numismatic Museum and as the First Cemetery of Athens where, from 8 April, the American artist Pope.L will be performing his Whispering Campaign (2016-17) in which five performers will roam the city whispering their observations to the public. 

Why the Whitney’s Humanist, Pro-Diversity Biennial Is a Revelation
By Roberta Smith
Why the Whitney’s Humanist, Pro-Diversity Biennial Is a Revelation
The New York Times March 16, 2017

Pope.L’s enormous room covered inside and out with a careful grid of embellished slices of baloney, embodies his usual sarcasm, even if the point about population breakdowns remains obscure.

9 Artists You Should Give a F*ck About at the 2017 Whitney Biennial
By KARA WEISENSTEIN
9 Artists You Should Give a F*ck About at the 2017 Whitney Biennial
Creators March 15, 2017

For the Whitney Museum of American Art's first Biennial in its new home in the Meatpacking district, its curators chose quintessentially 2017 key themes: the formation of self and the individual's place in a turbulent society. As you might expect, traces of American political turmoil tinge much of the art.

The Whitney Nails a Balancing-Act Biennial
By Ben Davis
The Whitney Nails a Balancing-Act Biennial
Artnet News March 14, 2017

One of the senior figures here is Pope.L, the consistently discomfiting Chicago-based African-American artist whose fifth-floor installation, a kind of free-standing room, is adorned with a number of actual, fleshy, putrefying baloney slices, nailed to its walls in grid.

The 2017 Whitney Biennial Is a Pitch-Perfect Survey of Art Today
BY TESS THACKARA
The 2017 Whitney Biennial Is a Pitch-Perfect Survey of Art Today
Artsy March 14, 2017

All the while, the stomach-turning scent of Pope.L’s installation wafts across much of the floor. It includes almost 3000 slices of baloney, each imprinted with a portrait of “a purported Jewish person pasted at its center” and pinned to the inner and outer walls of a box-like environment. Within its chamber, a note typed by the artist in irregular font and scrawled over with a pen bemoans the racial and ethnic categorization of humans, “as if we are simply sets in a math problem.”

Stained Glass, Rotting Bologna, And Rebellion At The Whitney's First Downtown Biennial
By Scott Lynch
Stained Glass, Rotting Bologna, And Rebellion At The Whitney's First Downtown Biennial
Village Voice March 13, 2017

There are 63 artists in the Whitney Biennial this time around, and while individual results may vary, some of my personal favorites would include Pope L's "Claim (Whitney Version)," a giant cube covered inside and out with meticulously-spaced slices of rotting bologna, each one of which is embedded with a bleary, photocopied portrait.

Whitney Biennial 2017 Review: Aesthetics Are Alive Downtown
By PETER PLAGENS
Whitney Biennial 2017 Review: Aesthetics Are Alive Downtown
The Wall Street Journal March 13, 2017

Every Biennial contains a couple of did-you-see? popular hits. In 2017, the two are likely to be by Pope.L aka William Pope.L and Raúl de Nieves. “Claim (Whitney Version)” 2017, Pope.L’s large box room, is festooned on the outside with slices of real bologna dripping grease and arranged in a grid, mimicking round dots on a chart. The smell, surprisingly, isn’t unpleasant and the artist’s jibe at coldly translating flesh-and-blood beings into data spots registers immediately. 

An Omnivorous Tour of the 2017 Whitney Biennial
By Benjamin Sutton
An Omnivorous Tour of the 2017 Whitney Biennial
Hyperallergic March 13, 2017

The 2017 Whitney Biennial, the institution’s first since its move to the Meatpacking District, opens to the public later this week, but already the buzz is positive. 

Pope.L in ArtNews Today
By Andy Battaglia
Pope.L in ArtNews Today
ARTNEWS March 13, 2017

Written and signed by Pope.L himself, the text took on the absurd duty of explicating a work—titled Claim (Whitney Version), 2017—that is, among other things, about absurdity itself. The slices of bologna (2,755, to be exact) are said to correspond to a ratio relating to the number of Jewish citizens living in New York, and all the rest follows from that, from a methodical portrait-taking system to an ostensibly hyper-organized arrangement of objects in a grid with pencil lines to keep everything straight.

A User’s Guide to the Whitney Biennial: Pope.L
By Jason Farago
A User’s Guide to the Whitney Biennial: Pope.L
The New York Times March 8, 2017

One of the show’s senior figures is the Chicago artist Pope.L — who facetiously called himself “the friendliest black artist in America,” and whose views on race and self are wildly unfixed. Here he reworks a 2014 installation in which hundreds of slices of bologna are fixed with small, hard-to-decipher photos. Mr. Pope.L suggests in an adjacent text that the photos represent Jewish people — but then again, the sitters may not be Jewish at all. Take the pungent bologna any way you like it. Ms. Locks put it this way: “I love the idea that it’s this perfect grid, this perfect system, with the most false, sloppy data points you’ve ever seen. Literally deteriorating.”

Independent New York Opens Second Edition in Tribeca With Solid Sales, Sun-Drenched Booths
by Nate Freeman
Independent New York Opens Second Edition in Tribeca With Solid Sales, Sun-Drenched Booths
Art News March 3, 2017

Dealers this afternoon, a few hours into the opening, reported that the collectors who come to Independent New York are often looking to snap up quite specific objects—and that makes it easy to choose what you bring.

“This is a pretty low-stress fair,” said Mitchell-Innes & Nash director Bridget Finn. “We’ve done well enough that if it ended now, we’d be satisfied.”

The gallery had off-loaded several works by Pope.L, including nearly ten small sculptures priced at $10,000 each. 

Barnes Foundation gets out of the gallery into the street with its new exhibit
by Esther Yoon
Barnes Foundation gets out of the gallery into the street with its new exhibit
philly.com March 2, 2017

Surface Tension serves as the backdrop to a video projection of William Pope.L’s 2000 performance “The Great White Way, 22 Miles, 9 Years, 1 Street,” in which he famously crawled 22 miles of sidewalk from the beginning to the end of Broadway — Manhattan’s longest street — wearing a capeless Superman outfit with a skateboard strapped to his back.

Protest Art in the Era of Trump
By M.H. Miller
Protest Art in the Era of Trump
T Magazine February 20, 2017

“I was excited about Obama, but at the same time I was wondering how the machine of conventional politics would nullify his impact. You could say I was suspicious. I’m the kind of person who sees clouds on the horizon. Or smoke. There’s always this sense that there’s more to do. And we became complacent. Otherwise I don’t think what happened on Nov. 8 would have happened. It’s almost as if we thought black people — or President Obama — could solve everything. It’s about some fantasy we had — this Caramel Camelot. And so now we are where we are."

AMERICANISMO
Pope.L in conversation with Mia Locks
AMERICANISMO
Mousse Magazine February 2017

Pope.L and Mia Locks discuss "Americanismo" in the 57th issue of Mousse Magazine. 

10 Places to See Public Art in 2017
By Alina Cohen
10 Places to See Public Art in 2017
T Magazine January 19, 2017

The Barnes Foundation will celebrate more than 50 artists’ engagement with different communities in “Person of the Crowd: The Contemporary Art of Flânerie,” opening Feb. 25. The artists Tania Bruguera and Sanford Biggers will organize performances in the city streets, and the Guerrilla Girls collective will create billboards. Additionally, Monument Lab (a group of curators, scholars, students and artists who aim to ask what kind of monuments the city needs) will mount a temporary work by the Chinese artist Ai Weiwei. In May, the Association for Public Art will bring the artist Martin Puryear’s largest public sculpture to date, “Big Bling,” to the city for six months.

Bienal De Sao Paulo Explores Themes of Chaos and Uncertainty
Press
Bienal De Sao Paulo Explores Themes of Chaos and Uncertainty
Artnet News September 6, 2016

Artist Pope. L has a much-buzzed about performance for the biennial slated for September 7. Baile is described by the artist as “a physical vocabulary developing in response to the city and the manifestations (or protests) that occur. It’s the idea that no matter how desperate the politics, the party will go on.”

Pope.L gets conceptual with slavery play at Drawing Center
by Dan Duray
Pope.L gets conceptual with slavery play at Drawing Center
The Art Newspaper August 15, 2016

Ahead of his show at New York’s Drawing Center in 2018, the artist Pope.L held a workshop this summer with writers, curators and others to preview and discuss his staging of a play written by a former slave.

Best in Show
by Linda Yablonsky
Best in Show
Artforum June 20, 2016

“You have to see Pope.L’s performance,” Art Basel director Marc Spiegler told me. It was scheduled for 6 PM. That was now. I ran for the Mitchell-Innes & Nash–sponsored room—and fell in behind a man dressed in a white gorilla suit (the artist).

Followed by an annoying film crew, and watched by expectant iPhone- and iPad-wielding curators, critics, collectors, advisors, and dealers, the silent Pope.L opened and closed a clear plastic umbrella, climbed and descended from a white kitchen stepladder, picked up a white satchel and walked around the space, inspecting the paintings (his) on the walls. When he pulled at one canvas, a thick wad of cash fell into his hand. He put it in the satchel. He repeated this action twice, then took a small white sculpture of a Paul McCarthy–like gnome out of his bag, placed it on the floor, and left the room.

At Art Basel, Upbeat Dealers and Brisk Sales
by Robin Pogrebin
At Art Basel, Upbeat Dealers and Brisk Sales
The New York Times June 19, 2016

Nicholas Baume, the director and chief curator of the Public Art Fund, said he was particularly struck by Pope.L’s performance at Unlimited’s opening, in which the artist wandered through the fair in a white gorilla suit before departing in a white limousine.

Monkey business comes to Art Basel
Rakewell
Monkey business comes to Art Basel
Apollo June 13, 2016

Art Basel is around the corner and excitement is feverish. For his sins, the Rake is giving it a miss this year (all that mountain air feels a bit too healthy) but his Swiss moles are keeping him in the know. Among the more intriguing pieces of literature to have come their way is an announcement from New York gallery Mitchell-Innes & Nash, heralding a new performance piece called The Problem by American artist Pope L.

Watch out for this guy (and his limo) at Art Basel
Press
Watch out for this guy (and his limo) at Art Basel
Phaidon June 9, 2016

Pay peanuts and you get monkeys, the old idiom goes. Yet a new great-ape performance at this year’s Art Basel seems to suggest hard cash remains a motivating factor among some primates.

The Chicago performance artist Pope.L will stage his new performance, The Problem, to open the Unlimited section of Art Basel, which takes place in the Swiss city 16 – 19 June. Here’s how his gallery, Mitchell-Innes & Nash, describes the piece.

“A white gorilla emerges from a white stretch limo at the entrance of the fair. Spilling white plantains onto the ground, the gorilla enters Unlimited, and wanders through the convention centre, looking for something. The beast drops more white things as it wanders. Eventually, the entity finds what it is looking for: an exhibition space containing a set of paintings called Circa by the famous negro artist Pope.L. The gorilla ignores the paintings and searches behind them, finally extracting five fat stacks of currency. The creature exits, leaving behind a garden gnome painted completely white except for a black-faced nose.”

Pope.L
After five years in Chelsea, Independent—a younger alternative to the other main fairs this week, the Armory Show and the ADAA Art Show—migrated downtown for its 2016 edition. The fair’s opening on Thursday, on four floors of Spring Studios, a massive eve
Pope.L
ARTNews March 5, 2016

After five years in Chelsea, Independent—a younger alternative to the other main fairs this week, the Armory Show and the ADAA Art Show—migrated downtown for its 2016 edition. The fair’s opening on Thursday, on four floors of Spring Studios, a massive event space with high ceilings and large windows letting in light from the West Side of Manhattan, had a crowd lining up around the block to get inside.

Our picks from the Independent fair
By Dan Duray
Our picks from the Independent fair
The Art Newspaper March 4, 2016

Mitchell Innes and Nash offers an array of works by the
multidisciplinary artist Pope.L. The stand’s centrepiece is a
sculpture, Coffin (Flag Box) (2008), an L-for-Liberty-shaped
rough wooden box that generates the uncomfortable sound of a
flag flapping. These are accompanied by a number of newer wall
works, the most interesting of which are shoe-box-sized—and
just as textural as they are textual—often with gesso or acrylic
smeared over the words. The words on the other hand are equal
part signifiers and signifying. Sad Cop Small Dog (2015) evokes
just what it needs to, and feels pretty groovy with is colourful
bubbly script—but, wait, why is it pinned to wood with pushpins?
And is that blood up on top? Tight works, to be sure.

Armory and Independent
By Sam Korman
Armory and Independent
Art Agenda March 4, 2016

The Independent is refreshing after a few hours at the Armory. The new location at Spring Studios in Tribeca is capacious, with lots of natural light, which slows the often overwhelming pace of these fairs. If its new digs feel a little corporate, it gives the art (and people) room to breathe. The effect is particularly strong with New York’s Mitchell-Innes & Nash’s solo presentation with Pope.L. Two massive works on paper, Black People Are Shit and Green People Are Hark (both 2012), spell out their titles in massive, block letters. The layers of paint meld the words to the paper, lending both a rippling weight. Nearby, a simple L-shaped coffin (Coffin [Flag Box], 2008) is partially supported by a book titled Birth of Nations, while the distorted sounds of a flag whipping in the wind plays through speakers inset to its walls. Google searches of the book mostly linked to the infamous, racist film The Birth of a Nation (1917), but I could not confirm its contents, or whether it was real or of the artist’s creation. Pope.L’s work has a gut-punch immediacy, and issues of race, alienation, and democracy break down
into a poetic and absurd interplay between identity, language, and materials.

Fresh New Digs for Aging Independent
By Chris Green
Fresh New Digs for Aging Independent
Art F City March 4, 2016

Pope L. lands like a piledriver from heavyweight Mitchell Innes & Nash. The gallery
is new to the Independent this year and presents the most coherent show of the fair. Pope L.’s work continues to be provocative and the sounds of flapping flags emerging from his 2008 Coffin (Flag Box) shook up an otherwise lethargic crowd at the opening. Canvases like Black People Are Shit (2012) are especially needed in such a privileged and white-washed venue.

10 Standout Painters to Discover From Independent New York 2016
By Karen Rosenberg
10 Standout Painters to Discover From Independent New York 2016
Artspace

One of the few political statements at the fair came from the veteran performance artist Pope.L (he recently dropped the "William" from his name), who combined abstraction with found objects steeped in racial caricature in this painting and invoked cops and doughnuts in other text-based works.

How the Independent Art Fair is Changing the Game
By Mark Guiducci
How the Independent Art Fair is Changing the Game
Vogue March 3, 2016

The continuity between the booths at Independent and the galleries themselves is as appealing to dealers as it is for the rest of us. Mitchell-Innes & Nash, which has in the past shown at the Armory and ADAA shows and which will present at Independent for the first time this year, is showing a solo booth of sculpture and paintings by performance artist Pope.L. “The gallery schedule is booked through at least 2017,” says Lucy Mitchell-Innes, referring to her West 26th Street space. “This is a mini show.” Taylor Trabulus, director of the understated Martos Gallery, agrees: “We think of Independent as more of a show than an art fair.” Martos will show work by artists experimenting in new mediums this weekend, including wallpaper by Michel Auder and sculptural chairs from painter Jess Fuller. Adam Lindemann’s Venus Over Manhattan gallery is bringing a solo booth of early work by California artist Peter Saul.

Pope.L and Will Boone Featured
By Charlotte Boutboul
Pope.L and Will Boone Featured
Whitewall February 20, 2016

Through March 5th, Andrea Rosen Gallery will feature a dual exhibition
of Pope.L andWill Boone. Both conceptual artists will occupy the three-room Chelsea
space with respective video installations, sculptures, and paintings.
At a preview last month, Pope.L discussed his ontological fascination with words by
divulging the inspiration behind some of his pieces, notably, Cone in a Forest and Cone for My Sister (Private Language Problem) (2015), a large cone installation made of wooden sculpted letters.

Exhibition spotlights black visual culture
By Samuel Lee
Exhibition spotlights black visual culture
Yale Daily News January 20, 2016

the artwork on show includes rarely displayed collaged works on postcards by Wangechi Mutu ART ’00 from her personal collection, a site-specific installation in ink, pencil and wash on paper by Firelei Baez titled “Memory, Like Fire, is Radiant and Immutable,” and a video piece by William Pope.L where, dressed as Superman with a skateboard on his back, he crawls all the way to the Bronx from the base of the Statue of Liberty.

Top Ten
Thelma Golden
Top Ten
Artforum December 2015
Live Performance a Big Part of Miami Week
By Jordan Levin
Live Performance a Big Part of Miami Week
MIami Herald March 8, 2015

The Wednesday night opening of Art Public includes four performance pieces. In Chinese artist Yan Xing’s L’amour l’apres midi, young men in embroidered silks flirt with passersby. Xavier Cha’s supreme ultimate exercise contrasts bodybuilders hoisting truck tires with the flowing movement of a tai chi practitioner. In Ryan Gander’s Ernest Hawker, a fictional character, based on Gander, plays a drunken, washed-up artist. And Pope.L’s The Beautiful features black men with skateboards on their backs who crawl onto a stage to sing America the Beautiful. All will pop up unannounced from among the crowd at the park.

Pope.L returns to L.A. with twin gallery shows focused on race
By Sharon Mizota
Pope.L returns to L.A. with twin gallery shows focused on race
LA Times November 13, 2015

Following a powerful exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art this summer, the Chicago artist known as Pope.L, or just Pope.L, returns to Los Angeles with a show that sprawls across two galleries — Susanne Vielmetter in Culver City and Steve Turner in Hollywood — as well as the spaces in between.

The show at Vielmetter is titled “Forest.” At Turner, it's “Desert.” And Pope.L has created audio GPS tours for driving between the two. This emphasis on the space between is just one point of entry to an exhibition that includes drawings on Pop-Tarts, stuffed animals entombed in peanut butter and giant erasers. Throughout, Pope.L draws connections between interstitial spaces and our notions of blackness.

Outside the Fair, Public Art to Fill Miami’s Collins Park
By Alanna Martinez
Outside the Fair, Public Art to Fill Miami’s Collins Park
The Observer November 12, 2015

On the exhibition’s opening night on December 2 a series live performance works will light up the park. Revered performance artist Pope.L has prepared a version of his iconic “crawl” performance, this time featuring four men who will skate through the park laying on skateboards before crawling to a stage to sing America The Beautiful.

Artist Pope.L on Humor, Race and God
by Rachel Rivenc
Artist Pope.L on Humor, Race and God
The Getty Iris October 7, 2015

Pope.L has a prolific and polymorphous multi-media art
practice. In addition to his well-known performances, he creates
sculpture, installation, drawings, paintings, photography, video, and
writing. With seemingly inextinguishable curiosity and boundless
appetite, Pope.L absorbs every possible medium and explores the many
themes that are important to him with drollery, poetry, and a unique,
irreverent, inquisitive, and highly personal point of view. He once
described himself as “a fisherman of social absurdity.”

Eleven Favorites
by Eileen Myles
Eleven Favorites
The Paris Review Fall 2015

If I ever saw a piece of art performed that filled everything and erased itself (which seems to me to be the absolute and entirely political purpose of performance art), this is it.

By Samuel Jablon
Pope.L on “Acting a Fool” and Alternative Futures
Hyperallergic July 10, 2013

Chicago-based artist Pope.L works in a variety of mediums, including painting, spoken word, installation, and performance, to challenge ideas of race and social stereotypes. His practice questions society’s claims on identity and the body. Pope.L has famously crawled all over New York City: for his piece “Tompkins Square Crawl” (1991), he climbed through the gutters of Tompkins Square Park in a suit, and in “The Great White Way,” he crawled the entire 22 miles of Broadway over a period of five years wearing a superman suit with a skateboard slung over his back. He has eaten an issue of the Wall Street Journal while sitting on a toilet in his piece, “Eating the Wall Street Journal” (2000). He copyrighted his personal slogan: “The Friendliest Black Artist in America©.” His paintings and sculptures often use a variety of white foods: mayonnaise, flour, and milk. Pope.L is a master of, in his words, “genre-hopping”; he does not sit still, he’s constantly in motion challenging ideas of who we are, what we are, and what it means to be American.

By Annie Buckley
Pope.L: LOS ANGELES, at Museum of Contemporary Art
Art in America June 2, 2015

Pope.L’s powerful exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art’s Geffen Contemporary subtly replaces passive viewing with multisensory experience. The show teems with possibilities for heightened sensation—smell, touch, vision and hearing—and draws on Pope.L’s decades of performance and video work to evoke the kinds of physical and psychical shifts a performer might experience. At the center of this selection of nine mixed-medium pieces dating from 1992 to the present is Trinket (2008/2015), a 16-by-45-foot American flag blown by four large industrial fans of the type used to simulate tornadoes on movie sets.

By Terry R. Myers
Pope.L: Trinket
Brooklyn Rail May 6, 2015

“Twenty years ago all the ambitious young painters I knew in New York saw abstract art as the only way out.” This sentence, the start of Clement Greenberg’s 1962 essay “After Abstract Expressionism,” provides a particular way into Pope.L’s determined exhibition at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA. Those painters of the 1940s, to Greenberg at least, were trying to leave behind not so much representational art, given their relative commitment to the progressive aims of modernism, but more the visuality of illusion itself. Pope.L, like most of the critical artists of his generation, understood that those aims were just as oppressive of the potent interplay of abstraction, representation, and illusion that remains with us today, as they were of artists themselves. This exhibition presents a focused selection of key works of Pope.L’s that reinforce and reconfigure categories like painting, sculpture, performance, photography, and video in order, it seems, to maintain any way out of a category or situation as another way in, even if the entire show happens to be dominated by a work made with an enormous flag of the United States of America.

By Adrienne Alpert
New MOCA flag exhibit waves democracy in
ABC News March 28, 2015

An American flag half the size of a football field is the centerpiece of a new exhibit at the Geffen Contemporary at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Little Tokyo.

The 50-foot long piece constantly waves by the force of four huge industrial fans under bright lights that go on and off.

But this is no ordinary oversized flag. Its field is longer and the ends are frayed. The union bears 51 stars, not 50.

It is not so much Old Glory, as much as a new glory envisioned by the artist Pope.L.
 

By Christopher Knight
Pope.L sets the U.S. flag waving at the MOCA/Geffen
Los Angeles Times March 24, 2015

"Trinket" is a monumental 2008 installation sculpture by Newark-born, Chicago-based artist Pope.L, 59, that put the disheartening display of media-mad political theater into devastating perspective. Centered on Old Glory, its title references the lapel pin. [...]

By Jori Finkel
Pope.L Makes Statements afarom the Fringes
New York Times March 19, 2015

"LOS ANGELES — It was a plaintive sight: a monumental American flag drooping so low on its pole that it would touch the ground were it not for a wood platform. The artist  Pope.L was tending to the flag carefully. He lifted the tail end, where the stripes were separated at the seams, and spread them apart, the way you might separate a girl’s long hair before braiding it.

“This is just to make sure it catches properly and doesn’t tangle,” he said. An assistant switched on four large Ritter fans, the kind used by movie studios to whip up 40-mile-an-hour winds.

Soon the flag was flying high, a wild, hydra-like form. Only it was not flying in the open air but inside the belly of the Geffen Contemporary, a branch of the Museum of Contemporary Art here, where Mr. Pope.L was readying his largest museum show to date.  [...]"

By Charlotte Burns
Pope.L wants to bring down the house
The Art Newspaper March 16, 2015

The largest-ever museum presentation of work by Pope.L could, quite literally, raise the roof. The centerpiece of the exhibition, Trinket, 2008, is a massive custom-made American flag—around 50 by 20 feet—which will be hung from a pole in the middle of the Geffen Contemporary gallery at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, and blown about by four industrial fans of such strength that the flag’s ends will start to fray. The wind force is such that the building’s ventilation system has been reconfigured to make sure the roof stays intact.

As told to Zachary Cahill
Pope.L
Artforum: 500 Words February 20, 2015

A mainstay of performance and installation art since the 1970s, Pope.L will open the largest museum show of his work to date at the Geffen Contemporary at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, on March 20, 2015. Trinket, 2008, the centerpiece work, and also the title of the show, is a large-scale American flag that will be blown continuously during the museum’s public hours by a bank of industrial fans. Here, Pope.L discusses the show, which runs until June 28, 2015.

POPE.L DISCUSSES HIS ARTFORUM COVER AT CAA: ‘LEAVE ME OUT OF IT’
By Dan Duray
POPE.L DISCUSSES HIS ARTFORUM COVER AT CAA: ‘LEAVE ME OUT OF IT’
Artnews February 17, 2015

“I have a very divided take about being on the cover of Artforum,” said Pope.L, who is black. “That’s something I’m supposed to want. All artist are supposed to want that. It’s really funny when you get what you want and you have no idea what it is. You have fantasies about these things, and you get drunk and you talk about these things. ‘Oh, my Guggenheim show, we’ll get drunk and we’ll be in the back with our friends.’ It’s never like that.”

By David Joselit
Material Witness
Artforum February 2015

Art Historian David Joselit takes up the case of Eric Garner and its challenge to the very concept of visual evidence or representation--and its denial of images and objects as evidence of fact.  Joselit considers the possibility of critical and artistic practices that may counter such failures of representation, instead staging a refusal or representation--a refusal perhaps nowhere more potent than in the performances of Pope.L, whether the artist is literally ingesting and expelling information, in Eating the Wall Street Journal, 1991-2000, or, in Foraing (Asphyxia Version), 1993-95/2008, covering his head with a white plastic bag that he clutches tightly below his chin.  Is this act of self-erasure a gesture of annihilation, as the word asphyxia suggests, or is it a strategic subtraction of the body from a sphere in which that body cannot be represented anyway--cannot be visible or evident, or is subject to censure and repression?

*Text source: Artforum, Febuary 2015

The Saltz Cornucopia: 10 Fall Art Shows, Reviewed
By Jerry Saltz
The Saltz Cornucopia: 10 Fall Art Shows, Reviewed
Vulture September 10, 2014

At Mitchell-Innes & Nash, art-world gypsy-photographer Justine Kurland exhibits pictures of mechanics and garages taken all across this country. None of them are composed in your typical boring art-world format, around one person, usually of one ethnic, racial, sexual, or economic type, or one variety of object — tools, buildings, vehicles, electric chairs.

Press
William Pope.L by Ross Simonini
Interview Magazine February 2013

Beginning in the late '90s, Pope.L famously crawled along 22 miles of sidewalk, from the beginning to the end of Broadway - Manhattan's longest street - wearing a capeless Superman outfit with a skateboard strapped to his back.  

Holland Cotter
Art in Review—POPE.L
The New York Times Published: October 1, 2009

In 1961, the artist Allan Kaprow, who coined the term happenings, created an installation in a small open-air courtyard behind the Martha Jackson Gallery at 32 East 69th Street. He wrapped several sculptures already there — a Giacometti and a Barbara Hepworth — in protective tar paper, then filled the space with hundreds of old automobile tires, tossing them around to make piles that visitors were invited to climb.

Kim Levin
New York Reviews: William Pope.L at Mitchell-Innes & Nash
Art News December 2008

Pope.L, who may well be the best underknown artist around, has long been doing amazing work at the frayed edges where the art world meets Wall Street and the inner city. He is best known for his performances, which have included eating and regurgitating copies of the Wall Street Journal, and crawling on his belly like a worm. 

Press
Goings on About Town, Art Galleries - Uptown: Pope.L
The New Yorker October 13, 2008

Pope.L lines the gallery with more than a hundred small drawings made in transit since 2003—on airplane napkins, newspaper photographs, hotel stationery, a Howard Johnson's shoe mitt, and so on. The images tend toward the humorously sexual, with plenty of bespectacled worms, volcanoes, and explosions.