18 May - 20 June 2009
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
AT KENNY SCHACHTER / ROVE
William Pope.L is a visual and performance-theater artist and educator who makes culture out of contraries. Referring to himself as the ‘Friendliest Black Artist in America’, Pope.L has belly-crawled the streets of New York, consumed pages of the Wall Street Journal, and chained himself to the doors of a Chase Manhattan bank using link sausage and dressed only in a skirt made of dollar bills. Pope.L’s work, over the last 30 years, spans a variety of mediums from performances such as these, to installation, video, mixed media and drawing, all constantly confront the viewer- forcing us to think critically and offering a comment on culture, poverty, race and consumption.
On view at Kenny Schachter / ROVE is a wide range of work including drawing, mixed-media, video and performance documentation from the late 1990’s to present. In a series of hand-drawn, text-based works called ‘skin-set drawings’ Pope.L confronts identity politics in a striking and humorous way: “Red people are bonnets,” “Black people are beside the point,” and “Green people are inferior”. These works, full of tension, metaphor, and contradiction, confront our innermost racist fears and prejudices.
In a number of mixed media works Pope.L employs food as a medium, specifically pop tarts and peanut butter. These overly processed foods become symbols of both poverty and of an empty consumer culture. In the Pop Tart series, stereotypical black faces are drawn in marker directly on the surface of these now rotting sugary breakfast treats. Collage works including “Help” and “Great Expectations” are surrounding by a thick layer of peanut butter, which serves as a binder, holding the works together while slowly decomposing.
The most recent works exhibited, Semen Pictures, carry on Pope.L’s comment on culture but in a more oblique fashion. Here paper collages covered in hair, coffee grounds, paint, cum, lent, and matches, among other household items, are photographed, scanned, enlarged and printed on C-Print paper. In the end, the theme of ‘blackness’ is revisited; ‘Household Artifact’ is a series of domestic plants, resting on small shelves, which have been forcefully covered in a thick layer of blue and black spray-paint. ‘Effigies’, remains from Pope.L’s Black Factory, are small stuffed bears dipped in cheap black paint. Without choice or question these works are covered in blackness.
William Pope.L has exhibited widely, including New York, London, Los Angeles, Vienna, Montreal, Berlin, Zurich, and Tokyo. Pope.L’s most recent projects have been at the Art Institute of Chicago and Santa Monica Museum of Art. He is a featured artist in the books ‘Intersections’ edited by Marci Nelligan and Nicole Mauro, and Darby English’s ‘How to See a Work of Art in Total Darkness.’
Kenny Schachter / ROVE has produced two catalogues with the artist, ‘Some things you can do with Blackness’ and ‘Snow, Spraypaint, Hair, Sperm & Baloney’ both available for purchase through the gallery.
For gallery press enquiries or further information please contact Ann-Michael Waldvogel
KENNY SCHACHTER ROVE