LOS ANGELES — When requested by Martha Wilson concerning the affinity for contradiction inside his work in a 1996 BOMB journal interview, artist Pope.L pointed to his family experiences as one clue, noting how the “need to maintain issues collectively,” saved coming in battle with “this tendency for issues to disintegrate.” Somewhat than settle for these impulses as mutually unique and in opposition, Pope.L, who is thought for his gonzo interventions into artwork and life, dives into the tensions, curious as to how one makes which means inside such a shifting and unstable setting. He embraces contradiction and nonsense as however one methodology of partaking with our social realities and understanding how these realities are structured by ideologies like racism, consumerism, and extra.
I thought of Pope.L’s need to “produce a world or object with most of these tensions,” as he defined to Wilson, whereas visiting The Ritual Is For All of us, the artist’s second solo exhibition at Vielmetter Los Angeles. Spanning video, projection, objects, and work, The Ritual Is for All of us provides one other view into Pope.L’s legendary durational apply. Although he’s typically linked to his “Crawl” collection — public performances that discovered the artist dragging his physique throughout the asphalt of the New York Metropolis streets from one location to a different — Pope.L’s apply resists categorization, flitting from theater to writing to visible artwork with a mischievous glee. Whether or not he’s utilizing a VHS digicam or discovered objects, his work considers the slipperiness of language and time, inviting the viewer into absurdist encounters that depart us considering our personal views and social circumstances.
After I entered Vielmetter, I used to be greeted by a collection of sheds, organized all through the area like a deconstructed maze, creating improvised pathways and edges. A dripping sound stuffed the gallery as I inspected the sheds, not sure of what I used to be or for. I circled the field till encountering a facet with a beige curtain and stepped right into a darkish dice, my consideration drawn to a video enjoying on one of many partitions. “Shed Movie” (2006–2022) was shot on pre-high definition mini DV, and follows a nonlinear stream-of-images. One thread considerations two figures in hazmat fits investigating mulch close to a backyard mattress, their motion intercut with close-ups of pastel flowers and scenes of two masked figures chatting in a dank condominium. The display would then lower to an excessive close-up of a bleeding eye, with my physique sinking each time, the identical sensation I really feel when witnessing a leap scare in a horror film.
As I finished by every shed, sure photos reappeared like nagging ghosts. Many movies characteristic performers donning vinyl Condoleezza Rice or Donald Rumsfeld masks. The bleeding eye, for example, returned in “APHOV” (2005–2022), which includes a performer in a Rumsfeld masks and their arms painted black, tinkering with a miniature sinking ship whereas crying bloody tears. “The Collective” (2007–2022) unfurled like a bizarro household sitcom, with the drama (or comedy?) centering on two masked Condeleezas pontificating concerning the ’70s present Good Instances, whereas one other masked couple engaged in a messy kink ritual within the basement. The movies scaled a medley of tones, directly goofy, deranged, heartfelt, and roundabout.
The sheds have been joined by two units of wall-based work — acrylic work on paper with brilliant, slurry textual content and a set of Salisbury baked bean cans contained in handmade grey compression packing containers. Each echo ongoing initiatives, Pores and skin Set and The Black Manufacturing unit respectively, including one other layer of durational vitality to the exhibition. Pores and skin Set: Calendar options the identical poetic fragment written in blocky letters, the textual content careening joyously into illegibility. Most have been dated in 2020, however some boasted titles with future years like 2025. Whether or not increasing time by way of the Shed movies or complicated it as within the Calendar work, Pope.L performs with the instability of time and exhibits how tapping into this instability can unlock inventive shifts in considering.
His experiments with time and language talk this have to disrupt the codified rhythms of our every day life. Like his different durational work, The Ritual Is For All of us confronts us with different modes of being, peeling again the constricting hierarchies that arrange our lives. Within the BOMB interview, Pope.L defined he wished to create “works that permit folks to enter themselves, thus, enter the mess,” of our world. That’s how I felt partaking with the sheds scattered all through the gallery — like I used to be encountering the mess of our US actuality and needed to assemble methods of creating which means out of the chaos.
The Ritual Is for All of us continues at Vielmetter Los Angeles (1700 South Santa Fe Avenue, #101, Downtown, Los Angeles) by means of July 23. The exhibition was organized by the gallery.