William Pope.L, "October Projects"
Thu Oct 9 2008
Photograph: Courtesy Mitchell-Innes & Nash
Time Out Ratings :<strong>Rating: </strong>3/5
Those unfamiliar with William Pope.L’s harrowing endurance acts might mistake his current show as the work of a forlorn, lackadaisical cartoonist. But the drawings on view offer insight into the mind of this performance artist, who has engaged in such activities as crawling the length of Manhattan in a Superman suit.
In his series “Failure Drawings,” Pope.L scrawls Krazy Kat–style cartoons of erupting volcanoes and phallic worms on napkins, stationary and advertisements picked up during his extensive travels. In Failure Drawing #707 And Long Before White Mountain, he doodles on an American Airlines napkin, picturing a mountain beset by fallen rockets above the inscription I SUPPOSE THESE DRAWINGS ARE ABOUT THE IRAQ WAR-BUT THEY ARE ALSO ABOUT THE WAR ON THE GROUND. IT IS A WAR THAT IS NOT ON AMERICAN SOIL, YET IN AMERICA. Here, Pope.L does more than just comment on the war; he seems to describe the effects of this nightmare on his imagination.
Unfortunately, the installation Coffin (Flag Box), an L-shaped, padlocked pine box emitting sounds of tumbling from within, is a bit too didactic. Far more effective is the large collaged diptych, Keepsake, in which a pair of torn and stained drawings is tacked inside adjacent white frames along with a child’s white sweater. In this surrealistic frieze, a hunter takes aim at a giant sandwich, suggesting a metaphor for American expansionism in the age of Palin. While Pope.L works hard to keep up with the political landscape, this show works best as a personal journal of an artist on the move.