52 Walker is pleased to announce its sixth exhibition, Impossible Failures, which will pair work by Gordon Matta-Clark (1943–1978) and Pope.L (b. 1955). Focusing on their shared fixation regarding the problematics of architecture, language, institutions, scale, and value, Impossible Failures will feature a selection of drawings as well as films by each artist. Pope.L will also debut a new site-specific installation, presented in collaboration with Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.