The Carpenter Center for the Arts is currently presenting a daring exhibition of the work of artist William Pope.L titled “Corbu Pops.” The Carpenter Center is the only building in North America designed by the modernist genius Le Corbusier (“Corbu” to his friends). Pope.L kicked off the exhibition with a performance piece that included a set of entertainers dressed up in “Corbu” outfits. These Harvard students, bespectacled and costumed like the great architect, composed and sang, under Pope.L’s direction, a Dada-esque score of musical “nonsense.” The Feb. 19 performance piece was accompanied by a talk by the artist.
The work takes the Carpenter Center as its starting point in an erstwhile investigation of modernism, utopia, nonsense, blackness, purity, and factory production. Such a laundry list of ideas, culled as it is from the bowels of Western civilization, is typical of Pope.L’s working method. Paying close attention to the structures and systems that create our built and lived environment, Pope.L’s work uses avant-garde strategies such as the ready-made, performance, and collage to question the institutionalization of philosophical ideas such as art and the psychic disturbances provoked by industrialization and modernity.
Pope.L has said of the Carpenter Center, “As a felt environment, as I moved through the building, around it, and it moved through me, the building ‘textures up’ like a ‘confusing machine,’ a machine that manufactures disorientation in the form of a dark viscous liquid. Unlike a washing machine, this machine creates opacities.”
The exhibition runs through April 9.