CHICAGO, IL.- The Renaissance Society
concludes its 2012-13 season with Forlesen, a new installation by Chicago-based interdisciplinary artist William Pope.L, on view from April 28 to June 23, 2013. In his work, Pope.L investigates how difference is demarcated economically, socially, culturally and politically, most prominently in the opposition between blackness and whiteness. With this project, the artist furthers his exploration through multiple media, including drawings, sculpture and a major video installation. Forlesen marks Pope.Ls first solo exhibition in Chicago since moving to the city to join the faculty of the University of Chicagos Department of Visual Arts.
Titled after a short story by the celebrated science fiction writer Gene Wolfe, Forlesen features a 10 foot high wooden sculpture entitled "Du Bois Machine," roughly 50 new skin set drawings, and a video work of abstract imagery that is derived from bargain bin VHS porn releases. Pope.L was intrigued by the structure of Wolfe's story, which resembles a parable whose lesson is illustrated symbolically and is wholly open to interpretation. Rather than plot driven, Forlesen is a string of bizarre episodes that add up to story only through the readers subjective decoding. Pope.L wanted to create an installation with this same effect: the relationship of the artworks within the installation to one another, and ultimately to the exhibition as a whole, is ambiguous and continually in question. The new work is provocative and ingeniousa demanding puzzle, says The Renaissance Society Executive Director and Chief Curator Susanne Ghez.
Proclaiming himself "The Friendliest Black Artist in America," Pope.L has addressed the issue of race in works of all media, (performance, video, sculpture, drawing, assemblage, installation). His work is by turns polemical and poetic, and includes performance-based actions, formalist objects, and language-based drawings. Among his best-known works are the "crawls," a series of performances staged since 1978 in which he crawls for long distances through city streets. The crawls represent an attempt to bring awareness to the most marginalized members of society.
Pope.L has exhibited widely in the United States and across Europe. He has received the prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship, the NEA Visual Artist Fellowship, and the USA Fellowship in the Visual Arts. Pope.L teaches in the Department of Visual Arts at the University of Chicago, having previously held a lecturer position in the Theatre and Rhetoric Department at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine.