With “POPE.L. Between A Figure and A Letter”, the Schinkel Pavillon presents the first, long overdue solo exhibition of the exceptional US artist Pope.L in Berlin. As early as the 1970s, Pope.L drew attention to the brutality of social decline in a country with little or no basic social security in his legendary crawls through the streets of major American cities on his knees and elbows. His interdisciplinary practice moves between performance, text, painting, installation, video and sculpture.
Image above: The Great White Way, 22 miles, 9 years, 1 street. Broadway, New York 2002.
For the current exhibition, Pope.L. will create a new, space-filling as well as site-specific installation that will be continuously activated performatively throughout the exhibition period and will be in artistic and thematic dialogue with the Skin Set Drawings (1997-2011) from his earlier creative phase exhibited in the basement and the video work Small Cup (2008).
In the centre is a huge, terrifying machine that is regularly fed by a performer with abstract wooden sculptures that recall, among other things, the neighbouring architectures of the Berlin Palace as well as the Old Guard.
Playing with multifaceted references, the artist continues in the installation his years-long preoccupation with representations of racist violence and social inequality. He mercilessly shows the destructive power of these structures, which permeate all layers and areas of our social life.
Pope.L (b. 1955, Newark, New Jersey, USA) is a Chicago-based visual artist, performance artist and teacher who creates a culture out of opposites. Recent solo exhibitions include ‘member: Pope.L 1978-2001’ at the Museum of Modern Art (2019), ‘Choir’ at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York (2019), and ‘Misconceptions’ at Portikus in Frankfurt/Main (2021).
Pope.L studied at the Pratt Institute in New York and later received his BA from Montclair State College in 1978. He also attended the Independent Study Program at the Whitney Museum of American Art before earning his MFA from Rutgers University in 1981. His first performances took place in the streets of New York, culminating in the emblematic performance The Great White Way, 2001–09, in which he crawled the length of Manhattan’s Broadway dressed as Superman. They have since been staged in many leading art venues and historical sites around the world. Recent exhibitions, performances, and projects include My Kingdom for a Title at the Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society at the University of Chicago (likewise curated by Dieter Roelstraete); Instigation, Aspiration, Perspiration, a trio of complementary exhibitions organized by the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Public Art Fund in New York in 2019; Flint Water Project at What Pipeline in Detroit in 2019; Brown People Are the Wrens in the Parking Lot at the University of Chicago’s Logan Center for the Arts in 2018; The Escape at the Art Institute of Chicago in 2018; Whispering Campaign at documenta 14 in Athens, Greece, and Kassel, Germany, in 2017; the 78th Whitney Biennial in New York in 2017; the 32nd Bienal de São Paulo in 2016; The Freedom Principle at the Museum Contemporary Art Chicago in 2015; Trinket at The Geffen Contemporary, Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles in 2015; Radical Presence: Black Performance in Contemporary Art at the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, CAM Houston, and Studio Museum in New York in 2014; and Forlesen at the Renaissance Society in Chicago in 2013. In the summer of 2021, Portikus Frankfurt presented Misconceptions, for which Pope.L conceived a new video installation based on the TV game show format. His work was recently also included in group exhibitions at Kunst/Werke and Galerie Max Hetzler in Berlin.
Saturday, April 9th – Sunday, Juli 31st, 2022
Opening: Friday, April 8th, 6 – 10 pm
Thursday & Friday: 2 – 7 pm
Saturday & Sunday: 11 am – 7 pm