Pope.L, Eating the Wall Street Journal (3rd version), 2000 performance. MoMA, New York, NY, USA.
Pope.L: Hospital
Nov 21, 2023 – Feb 11, 2024
South London Gallery
London, UK

Pope.L’s wide ranging practice spans writing, painting, performance, installation, sculpture and video, which will be explored across both the SLG’s Main Gallery and Fire Station. Hospital is the artist’s first solo exhibition in a London institution. With roots in philosophy and theatre, Pope.L’s career since the 1970s has centred on society, politics and contemporary culture. The work often reveals contradictory and provocative themes in language, gender, race, economics and community.

Pope.L’s exhibition brings together a set of installations and interventions, all of which are reconfigurations of previous works. In the Main Gallery three large-scale wooden towers are in states of gradual collapse. They are a reworking of the towers on top of which the artist, wearing only a jock strap and covered in flour, sat on a toilet and consumed newspaper pages in his performance, Eating the Wall Street Journal, 2000. For this latest version Pope.L has removed the live performance element, shifting the focus to the dynamic of the toppling tower structures and viewers’ capacity to imagine what might have happened or what is still to come.

Further installations across the four galleries in the SLG’s Fire Station explore ideas of memory, decay, forgetfulness, convalescence or mourning. The artist describes them as “sites where personal and institutional metaphors of care metastasize into scenes of spills, shelves with holes, fallen towers, broken bottles, dripping liquids, always something ongoing, always something undone and wanting fixed with dust or stains or trampled flowers. Hospital is that sensation of lying on your back on a stretcher in a hallway staring at the veins in the ceiling above while it stares right back”.

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