Pope. L, who calls himself “The Friendliest Black Artist in America©” and is among the foremost contemporary performance artists, addresses labor, race, and identity in projects both searing and humorous. His work, which also includes photographs, sculptures, writings, paintings, drawings, and community projects, aligns with Fluxus. Asked if he considers himself an activist, he replied: “When people use the word activism today, it sounds like after-ism...The space I create in my work for others is more formalist, like, ‘change the world’.” Among his numerous iconic pieces is The Great White Way, 22 miles, 9 years, 1 street(begun 1990), for which Pope.L donned a cape-less Superman costume, strapped a skateboard to his back, and dragged himself up the entire length of Manhattan’s Broadway—a visceral, ridiculous, poignant display, or, in his words, “public prostration in motion.”
Recent exhibitions, performances, and projects include Flint Water Project at What Pipeline, Detroit (2017); Whispering Campaign at documenta 14, Athens and Kassel (2017); Claim (Whitney Version) at the 2017 Whitney Biennial (2017); PLAMA (The Spot), a commercial commissioned for On the Tip of the Tongue at Museum of Modern Art Warsaw (2016); Baile at the 32nd Biennal de São Paulo (2016); The Freedom Principle at ICA Philadelphia (2016) and MCA Chicago (2015); The Public Body at Artspace, Sydney (2016); Less than One at Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (2016); Trinket at The Geffen Contemporary, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2015); Black Pulp! at Yale School of Art, New Haven and IPCNY in New York (2016); Radical Presence: Black Performance in Contemporary Art at Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, CAM Houston, and Studio Museum in New York (2014); Claim at Littman Gallery, Portland State University, Portland, OR (2014); Cage Unrequited at Performa, New York (2013); Forlesen at The Renaissance Society, University of Chicago, Chicago (2013); and A Long White Cloud, Te Tuhi, Auckland, New Zealand (2013).
Pope.L is the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships, including the Bucksbaum Award, Joyce Foundation Award, the Tiffany Foundation Award, the United States Artists Rockefeller Fellowship, the Bellagio Center Residency, Solomon R. Guggenheim Fellowship, Andy Warhol Foundation grant, Creative Capital Foundation grant, Franklin Furnace/Jerome Foundation grant, National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, Artists Space grant, and more.