William Pope L
Style: performance, installation, Video, Painting AfroSurreal
Country: United States of America
Medium: Mixed Media on Velium, Graph paper, bic pen, marker, white-out, and acrylic
Fun Fact: Pope.L is wryly messing not only with what the established (white) contemporary art world thinks contemporary black art should be, or with what other black artists think black art should be, but with what exactly this supposedly ‘post-black’ historical moment means. For him the very idea of blackness, as nebulously defined by both black and white culture, is ‘a rabbithole’ down which, as in Alice’s Wonderland, nothing is what it superficially seems. Like the protagonist of Ralph Ellison’s classic novel Invisible Man (1952), who discovers in a flash of insight that his own otherness as an African-American has conferred on him a certain invisibility in plain sight, Pope.L has learned through the trials and errors of his own black male body that it is possible to be both painfully present and unseen. Nowhere is this clearer than in his video-documented Tompkins Square Crawl (1991), in which he laboriously dragged himself through the gutters of the East Village one steamy summer afternoon in an impeccable business suit and tie - passing skipping children and their parents, a policeman walking his beat, people parking their cars - without anyone really noticing or much caring. (Only one man seems to see him, a nearby black resident who is at first concerned for and then outraged by Pope.L, by what he takes to be a cynical mockery of the homeless and the dignity of the striving black male. ‘I wear a suit like that to work!’ he shouts down at Pope.L, close to tears, before setting off to look for a cop.)
Quote "I am a fisherman of social absurdity, if you will… My focus is to politicize disenfranchisement, to make it neut, to reinvent what’s beneath us, to remind us where we all come from."
“The black body is a lack worth having.” This is not a Skin Set Drawing, but a quote from Pope.L in which he describes the social position of black men as they “attempt to preserve and promote [their bodies’] presence at the cost of [their bodies’] lack.” According to the artist, the measure of masculinity is presence. Regardless of how much presence the black male body assumes, it will “still be marked as lack.” An attempt to increase presence only exposes lack all the more, manifesting itself in innumerable statistics on “violence, drugs, alcohol, and crime.” Pope.L goes on: “As heir to this legacy, I would be remiss and arrogant to dismiss the shameful aspects and celebrate only the so-called good. It was the two in the tango that made these men. If I celebrate poetry and carpentry, I must also celebrate rape and alcohol. If I denigrate domestic violence, I must denigrate the ethos of hard work and Christian character.”
1. Brown people are the green ray
2. Green people are shitty
3. Purple people are reason bicarbonate
4. Yellow People are Hydrogenated
5. Red people are the niggers of the canyon
6. White people are black by neurosis
7.Orange People Are Rotting Rays From Ruins Refore The Last Enjoy The Griot Convey The Shrapnel Deploy
8.Orange People Are The Grid On The Ceiling
9.Purple People are the Rhyme in the Skyout Exactly Against the Red Against the Blue Against the Black Against the Glass Against the Sun
10.White People are a Desalination Plant in Puerto Rico
"Greenlee himself believed movie theater owners were visited by members of the FBI and were pressured to pull the film from their screens. It’s not an implausible theory, considering the story’s militant content, but one that has never been proven. That didn’t stop Greenlee from speaking out, anyway."
"Uh oh/ You’re in trouble/ Step up in the game/ and I burst that bubble…"
D. Scot Miller On Coltrane On Coltrane:
This is a collage poem composed of multiple individual lines from a book of John Coltrane interviews called “Coltrane On Coltrane”.
The name of the poem is “On Coltrane On Coltrane”.
Though these words are “From The Man Himself”, you will not find this exchange anywhere in existence.
Thank you. And Thanks to Sensitive Skin Magazine!