For this year’s Biennial, Pope.L staged Claim (Whitney Version), 2017, an immersive installation including 2,755 slices of bologna that, over the course of the show’s run, has cured and gradually leaked juices into basins at the bottom of the piece.
The Whitney Museum of American Art announced Pope.L as recipient of the 2017 Bucksbaum Award.
Pope.L is a visual artist and educator whose boundary-breaking practice spans nearly four decades and includes performances, painting, installation, video, sculpture, and theater. Best known for enacting arduous and provocative performances and interventions in public spaces, Pope.L addresses issues and themes ranging from language to gender, race, social struggle, and community.
For this year’s Biennial, Pope.L staged Claim (Whitney Version), 2017, an immersive installation including 2,755 slices of bologna that, over the course of the show’s run, has cured and gradually leaked juices into basins at the bottom of the piece. Pinned to the installation’s walls, each bologna slice has affixed to it a photocopied picture of a New Yorker photographed at random. The number of bologna slices is said to represent the percentage of Jews in New York, but Pope.L confessed to his methodology deliberately being “a bit off” in a text hung on a wall next to a bottle of MD 20/20.
According to the Whitney’s exhibition label, Pope.L’s work “plays with our tendency to project ourselves onto numbers and stokes our awareness that such counting often lays the groundwork for systematic acts of discrimination. The anxiety provoked by the work’s calculated absurdity questions the power of ‘big data,’ raising the specter of its use for nefarious ends—from controlling whose votes are valuable, to who can enter and leave the country freely.”
A jury selected Pope.L from among the 63 artists and collectives participating in the 2017 biennial. The jury included Adam D. Weinberg, director of the Whitney Museum of American Art; Curator Naomi Beckwith of MCA Chicago; Curator Johanna Burton of the New Museum; Mary Ceruti, the Sculpture Center’s executive director and chief curator; Co-curator of Whitney Biennial 2017 Christopher Y. Lew and Mia Locks; and Scott Rothkopf, the Whitney Museum’s chief curator and deputy director for programs.
“For almost four decades, Pope.L has challenged us to confront some of the most pressing questions about American society as well as about the very nature of art. We are thrilled that he is joining the illustrious group of American artists whom we have honored with The Bucksbaum Award,” said Weinberg.
Past winners of the Bucksbaum Award include Zoe Leonard, who won for her contribution to the 2014 Whitney Biennial, as well as Raymond Pettibon, Omer Fast, and Michael Asher. The Whitney is planning a program devoted to Pope.L’s work for the fall, but details about it are not yet clear.
The Bucksbaum Award includes a $100,000 grant and an invitation to mount an exhibition at the Whitney. Pope.L’s achievement will be celebrated at a fall event.
In addition to the Whitney Biennial, which is on view through June 11, the artist’s solo exhibition “Pope.L: Proto-Skin Set” is being presented at Mitchell-Innes & Nash in New York through June 30.
He is also included in Documenta 14 (June 10-Sept. 17, 2017) in Kassel, Germany, and Athens, Greece.