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Iconoclast and artist Pope.L uses the body, sex, and race as his materials the way other artists might use paint, clay, or bronze.  His work problematizes social categories by exploring how difference is marked economically, socially, and politically. Working in a range of media from ketchup to baloney to correction fluid, with a special emphasis on performativity and writing, Pope.L pokes fun at and interrogates American society’s pretenses, the bankruptcy of contemporary mores, and the resulting repercussions for a civil society. Other favorite Pope.L targets are squeamishness about the human body and the very possibility of making meaning through art and its display.

Published to accompany his wonderfully inscrutable exhibition Forlesen at the Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago, Pope.L: Showing Up to Withhold is simultaneously an artist’s book and a monograph. In addition to reproductions of a number of his most recent artworks, it includes images of significant works from the past decade, and presents a forum for reflection and analysis on art making today with contributions by renowned critics and scholars, including Lawrie Balfour, Nick Bastis, Lauren Berlant, and K. Silem Mohammad.


208 pages | 150 color plates | 9 x 10 | © 2014

Art: American Art

Black Studies

Media Studies

Table of Contents

Introduction by Pope.L and Karen Reimer

The Balloon Inside the Body by Nick Bastis


Reproducing Du Bois and Other Crazy Ideas by Lawrie Balfour

Skin Set

Interference in Pope.L’s Skin Set Drawings by K. Silem Mohammad


Showing Up to Withhold: Pope.L’s Deadpan Aesthetic by Lauren Berlant

Interview between Pope.L and Hamza Walker



Forlesen Catalog


Born 1955, Newark, New Jersey

Table of Con—tents by Pope.L

Image Credits


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