member: Pope.L, 1978–2001
An absurdist provocateur and brilliant interventionist, Pope.L is a seditious force in contemporary American art
Published by The Museum of Modern Art, New York.
Edited with text by Stuart Comer. Text by Naomi Beckwith, Mark H.C. Bessire, C. Carr, Valerie Cassel Oliver, Adrienne Edwards, Malik Gaines, Danielle A. Jackson, Adrian Heathfield, EJ Hill, Thomas J. Lax, André Lepecki, Yvonne Rainer, Martine Syms, Martha Wilson.
Pope.L is a consummate thinker and provocateur whose practice across multiple mediums—including painting, drawing, installation, sculpture, theater and video—utilizes abjection, humor, endurance, language and absurdity to confront and undermine rigid systems of belief. Published in conjunction with an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art that will feature a combination of videos, photographs, sculptural elements, ephemera and live actions, member: Pope.L, 1978–2001 presents a detailed study of 13 early works that helped define Pope.L’s career. Essays by curators, artists, filmmakers and art historians, plus an interview and artistic interventions by the artist, establish key details for each work and articulate how the artist continues to think about the legacy of these ephemeral projects unfolding in time.
Among the works included are performances rooted in experimental theater, such as Egg Eating Contest (1990), Aunt Jenny Chronicles (1991) and Eracism (2000), as well as street interventions such as Thunderbird Immolation a.k.a. Meditation Square Piece (1978), ATM Piece (1997) and The Great White Way: 22 miles, 9 years, 1 street (2001–09), among others. Together these works highlight the role that performance has played within a seditious, emphatically interdisciplinary career that has established Pope.L as an influential force in contemporary art.
Pope.L (born 1955) is an acclaimed and prolific interdisciplinary artist best known for his provocative performances, such as ATM Piece (1997) and his decades-long Crawl series—most notably Times Square Crawl (1978), Tompkins Square Crawl (1991) and The Great White Way: 22 miles, 9 years, 1 street (2001–09)—in which the artist drags his body across New York City. Pope.L received his MFA from the Mason Gross School of Arts at Rutgers University and has exhibited internationally. He lives and works in Chicago.
Stuart Comer is Chief Curator in the Department of Media and Performance at The Museum of Modern Art, New York.
Danielle A. Jackson is Curatorial Assistant in the Department of Media and Performance at The Museum of Modern Art, New York.
Naomi Beckwith is Manilow Senior Curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, where her exhibition and book projects focus on the impact of identity and multi-disciplinary practices for shaping contemporary art. Prior to working at the MCA Chicago, she held positions at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia and the Studio Museum in Harlem.
Cynthia Carr is a New York-based writer. Using the byline C. Carr, she reported on experimental art for the Village Voice from 1984 to 2003. Her books include Our Town: A Heartland Lynching, A Haunted Town, and the Hidden History of White America (1991), the edited collection On Edge: Performance at the End of the Twentieth Century (2008), and Fire in the Belly: The Life and Times of David Wojnarowicz (2012).
Valerie Cassel Oliver is Sydney and Frances Lewis Family Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. She formerly served as senior curator at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston from 2000-2017. Her past exhibitions include Double Consciousness: Black Conceptual Art Since 1970(2005) and Radical Presence: Black Performance in Contemporary Art (2012), which toured through 2015.
Adrienne Edwards is Engell Speyer Family Curator and Curator of Performance at the Whitney Museum of American Art
Malik Gaines is Associate Professor of Performance Studies at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and the author of Black Performance on the Outskirts of the Left: A History of the Impossible (2017).
Adrian Heathfield is writer, curator, and professor of performance studies. His books include Out of Now (2009), a monograph on the Taiwanese-American artist Tehching Hsieh, and the edited collections Perform, Repeat, Record (2012), Live: Art and Performance (2004), Small Acts (2000), and Shattered Anatomies (1997).
EJ Hill is a contemporary artist from Los Angeles who works in durational performance, installation, painting, and collage.
Thomas J. Lax is Associate Curator in the Department of Media and Performance Art at The Museum of Modern Art, New York.
André Lepecki is Professor of Performance Studies at New York University. He works and researches at the intersection of critical dance studies, curatorial practice, performance theory, contemporary dance, and visual arts performance.
Yvonne Rainer is a dancer, choreographer, and filmmaker. One of the founders of the Judson Dance Theater, Rainer transitioned from dance to filmmaking in the 1970s and returned to dance in 2000. Recent publications include her memoir Feelings Are Facts: a Life (2006), Poems (2011), and the edited collection Moving and Being Moved (2017).
Martine Syms is an artist who uses video and performance to examine representations of blackness. Her artwork has been exhibited and screened at The Museum of Modern Art, the Hammer Museum, ICA London, New Museum, Art Institute of Chicago, and The Studio Museum in Harlem, among other institutions. She is on faculty at the School of Art at the California Institute of the Arts and runs Dominica Publishing, an imprint dedicated to exploring blackness in visual culture.
Martha Wilson is a pioneering feminist artist and art space director, who over the past four decades has created innovative photographic and video works that explore her female subjectivity. In 1976 she founded Franklin Furnace, an artist-run space that champions the exploration and preservation of artist books, temporary installations, and performance art, as well as online works.