Pope.L, Forest (2012), graphite, ballpoint pen, and sweat on copy paper, 10.2 × 10.2 cm, courtesy Pope.L; Mitchell-Innes and Nash, New York; Susanne Vielmetter, Los Angeles

2016 was a year of wild speculations, burning insults, half-lies, and post-truth (Oxford Dictionaries’ Word of the Year). But even before the UK referendum, with its demonized immigrant laborers, or the U.S. election, followed by bipartisan accusations of Russian interference, Pope.L thought to make a whispering campaign.

Quiet as it’s kept, he is after a tone. His campaign is an abstraction or an atmosphere. It will seep in and permeate the real space and city infrastructures of Athens and Kassel in 2017. There are characters in both cities that are worth writing about, and Pope.L, who was born in New Jersey in 1955, has learned about them with the help of locals and native speakers, and encoded them into information to be whispered. The totality could be understood as a minor history of the two documenta 14 cities. Another way to attend to the campaign is to listen for patterns—music to the spy’s ear.

Here, Pope.L’s way with words becomes purely audible. Else-where, in his longest-lasting project to date (longer even than the Whispering Campaign for documenta 14, repeated in two cities, two time zones, for 163 days in total and twenty-four hours per day), there is a narration spelled out in felt markers or ballpoint pens, mostly on letter-size pages. We make out: blue people are the future; green people are hope without reason; red people are the tip for which the iceberg has been waiting; purple people are the end of orange people; black people are the window and the breaking of the window; gold people shit in their valet; red people are from mars, green people are from new jersey; brown people are the green ray; yellow people are runny; blue people are (if god created them and god created everything even non-everything so) blue people are the tears of god when it is sleeping; brown people are illegal immigrants; white people are a desalination plant in puerto rico; purple people are the pile of bodies on the television; xxixx xxxxxx xxx xxxx xrxxn xxxxxxx: 1, 7, 186, 4, 101. He calls them “Skin Set Drawings.” The world calls for sets and systems.

—Monika Szewczyk

Posted in Public Exhibition
Excerpted from the documenta 14: Daybook

Whispering Campaign (2016–17)​

by Pope.L

Performers spread whispers in the street—adding an unpredictable, living dimension to this wide-spread audio work, which quietly charts a minor history of the city.