Whitney Biennial 2017

Solo en Inglès

Structure made from four walls covered in grid pattern of bologna

Pope.L aka William Pope.L, Claim, 2017. Acrylic paint, graphite pencil, pushpins, wood, framed document, fortified wine, and bologna with black-and-white photocopy portraits, 15 × 16 3/4 × 16 3/4 ft. (4.6 × 5.1 × 5.1 m). Collection of the artist; courtesy Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York. Photograph Bill Orcutt

Pope.L: The anxiety-material that's a part of the work has to do with our shared history as Americans. I think we organize ourselves in how different we are from each other. Some ethnicities and some individuals are deemed less valuable than others or more questionable or more suspicious. This piece sort of pokes at that and gets at that in a way.

The baloney in the piece is not about Jewish dietary issues. I've been making these works—initially, the first four, five, six versions of this work were to do with black bodies, but of course Jews and blacks share a lot of history in terms of their stratification, being made of value within our country. I think that the crossover in the piece between these two groups allows me in way to work between two ghettos at one time.

The work is sort of set up to balance on the head of this pin, and the pin is probably irony. On paper, I'm making a claim about X number of Jewish people who live in a certain place. Then when I go and take pictures of those people, I don't. I take pictures of everybody else and that's another way of counting. And I think that's important, because I think when people count with maliciousness or they count with evil intent or they count for the sake of power, that excess, that desire simply to control or destroy or prevail, that has nothing to do with the specifics of counting at all. It has to do with what you're counting. The meat, if you will.