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Pope.L: Instigation, Aspiration, Perspiration

Pope.L: Instigation, Aspiration, Perspiration

About the Exhibition

For almost four decades, Pope.L (b. 1955, Newark, NJ) has challenged us to confront some of the most pressing questions about American society as well as about the very nature of art. Pope.L: Instigation, Aspiration, Perspiration is a trio of complementary exhibitions organized by Public Art Fund, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and The Museum of Modern Art that address his boundary-breaking practice. Utilizing both public and private spaces, the three exhibitions will address issues and themes ranging from language and gender, to race, social struggle, and community. Featuring a broad range of works from the artist’s oeuvre, Pope.L: Instigation, Aspiration, Perspiration will include a major new performance through the streets of New York City, seminal early works, as well as a monumental new installation.

Public Art Fund will present the free outdoor component of this three-institution season of Pope.L’s work. The commission, titled Conquest, is inspired by his iconic crawls, in which the artist dragged his body across the urban landscape in more than 30 iterations. The most significant of these works have been sited on the streets of New York City, beginning with his Times Square Crawl (1978), and followed by Tompkins Square Crawl (1991) and The Great White Way, 22 Miles, 9 Years, 1 Street (2001–2009), for which Pope.L wore a Superman costume with a skateboard strapped to his back while making the grueling journey down the full length of Broadway. The artist has always seen the potential for these works to become a public activation, and Public Art Fund's presentation will be his most ambitious yet, putting on full display the power of collective action. The location of this exhibition will be announced in 2019. Pope.L: Conquest is curated by Public Art Fund Director & Chief Curator Nicholas Baume.

For his Whitney presentation, on the occasion of Pope.L’s receipt of the 2017 Bucksbaum Award, the artist expands upon his ongoing exploration and use of water by creating a new installation entitled Choir that is inspired by the fountain, the public arena, and John Cage’s conception of music and sound. Organized by Christopher Y. Lew, Nancy and Fred Poses Curator, with Ambika Trasi, curatorial assistant, Whitney Museum of American Art.

The MoMA presentation will focus on thirteen early landmark performances, spanning from 1978-2001, that helped define Pope.L's career and are representative of the artist’s core concerns. Accompanied by a catalogue, the exhibition will explore the thirteen performances through a combination of archival videos, photographs, ephemera, sculptural elements, and live actions. The MoMA presentation is organized by Stuart Comer, Chief Curator, Department of Media and Performance Art, with Danielle A. Jackson, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Media and Performance Art.