In “Togetherness”, Pope.L thematizes different expressions of oppression and exclusion that persevere in Dutch society today; from nationalism, xenophobia and racism to colonialism, imperialism and sexism. The framework of the video installation is a TV game show with quiz elements, in which individual contestants of different cultural backgrounds, ages, and professions compete against each other for the coveted grand price.
By means of the enlargement and conversion of characters, a game between fact and fiction, the alternation of script through improvisation, and the use of absurdism and taboo, conventions are being questioned and moral boundaries explored. The artist forces us –both participant and spectator– to face painful truths about class inequality, the right to Dutch citizenship, patriarchal dominance, drugs criminality, housing, and social indifference. Above all he forces us to deal with the selective amnesia and blind spots that often complicate addressing these forms of oppression.
Filmed alternately at the former Compagnie Theatre and at locations in Amsterdam – in this work called ‘the city of amnesia’ –the group of contestants answer various questions about each other. The group features both professional actors as unwitting passersby. This direct confrontation and comparison, with which competing individuals are being reduced to a couple of stereotyped features, enlarges both the visibility of their personal prejudices against each other and of society as a whole. Pope.L invites both contestants as spectators to confront the Dutch cultural archive.
Through the medium of a game show –a seemingly accessible, uncomplicated, and slick setting –traditional power structures are exposed. In uncomfortable and absurd interactions moral boundaries are subtly being shifted, whereby the artist holds each player involved equally responsible for the outcome: for who wins, and who necessarily loses.
This video installation is the continuation of Misconceptions, a work that Pope.L made for Portikus in Frankfurt, Germany, in 2021.
Pope.L (b. 1955, in Newark, NJ) is a Chicago-based visual and performance-theater artist and educator who makes culture out of contraries. Recent solo exhibitions include ‘member: Pope.L 1978–2001’ at the Museum of Modern Art and ‘Choir’ at the Whitney Museum of American Art both in New York in 2019, ‘Notations, Holes and Humour’ at Modern Art in London in 2021, and ‘A Maze Zanine, Amaze Zaning, A-Mezzaning, Meza-9’ at David Zwirner in New York in 2022.
De Appel from 16.12.2022-28.02.2023.
Film producer: Fanny Hagmeier
all credits to follow soon