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Pope.L edition at The Wattis Institute

What I Do All Day When You’re @ Work
Light bulb, binder board, book cloth, foam, paper, ink
Edition of 25 + 3 AP’s
8 x 11 x 6 1/8 inches

Please email Christopher Squier at

Pope.L is an internationally acclaimed interdisciplinary artist, perhaps best known for his provocative performances and interventions in public spaces. His work addresses issues and themes of language, gender, race, social struggle, and community. He has received many prestigious grants and awards, including the Guggenheim Fellowship, NEA fellowships, and the USA Fellowship in Visual Arts. He has been included in numerous exhibitions around the world, and in fall 2019 the Whitney Museum and MoMA host simultaneous solo exhibitions, and the Public Art Fund presents a major performance. Pope.L’s sculpture Lever (2016) was included in the group exhibition Mechanisms at the Wattis in 2017.

Here are several ways of interpreting this work. The first text was written as a request of the artist by Jeanne Gerrity. The second text was written by the artist.

Pope.L addresses the most significant issues of our time, but that does not mean his work is without humor. This edition consists of a light bulb signed by the artist and nestled in a beautiful handmade box that would typically house an object of great worth. A light bulb is the symbol of a brilliant idea, and here Pope.L is poking fun at the cliché of the artistic genius. The light bulb is exhausted, and thus no longer has any practical value, but the idea itself, endorsed by a renowned artist through his signature and enshrined in a sumptuous container, is nevertheless fetishized. The work seems to imply that in American consumer culture, anything can be packaged and sold.

Exhaustion is just another word for being tired...

There is a John Prine song called 'Angel from Montgomery‎' (1971). In many ways, the song is about just being tired… I wish I'd channeled it to make this edition but...

However, if I had, if I had, I would have been thinking: time, time passing, time wasting—a woman, maybe a man, you know a woman-man, you know what I'm saying—anyway she's standing at the window like it’s a parapet, a light bulb dangles from the ceiling, she's leaning out the window and it feels like she'll lean that way forever—that's the sort of situation I'd have been channeling...

Instead I thought: there, there is, there is an inside not accessible to an outside therefore not intimate yet visible yet infinitely a part a a across an entire universe on either side of a a a glass a mere lighting fixture filled with vacuum—something old, something blue, something borrowed, something new, something totally, totally, totally you—yes, yes, yes, you—totally you—I'm talking to you, I've always been talking to you.