Simone Kussatz reviews Nancy Popp in art ltd magazine 9.11.14
at Klowden Mann
It’s often fascinating to witness artists perform. Then the world temporarily appears to stop around them and to listen in. This was the case, when Tehching Hsie locked himself up in a wooden cage for a year to demonstrate a person’s struggle with isolation, or chained himself to artist Linda Montano with an 8-foot long rope to show the struggle of two people being in a close relationship. This also happened when Yoko Ono sat on a stage letting others cut her black dress in little pieces, or when Marina Abramovic invited her audience to use different objects, in any way they wanted to either inflict pain or pleasure on her with the result that the more passive she remained, the more aggressive they became. And performance artist Nancy Popp follows that tradition of creating art with a social and political consciousness when she enters construction sites to explore the relationship between body and sites, while moving up and down buildings, leaving a track through orange mason line behind. Popp’s current solo show at Klowden Mann offers viewers a taste of these architectural site performances, which she’s been carrying out since 2010. Hence, the gallery presents a collection of her small and large photographic prints of her performance sites, including the Broad Museum in Downtown LA, and the McKinney/Routh shopping complex in uptown Dallas. Some of these are mounted on Plexiglas, perforated, and strung through with orange mason line, which is then entwined in the gallery’s architecture. One of her large-scale prints, displayed in the main gallery, is attached as a mural to a wall. Popp gave a performance on her opening night, in which she perforated and later laced the piece with mason line. In the backroom of the gallery, there is also a four-and-a-half minute- video of Popp’s Broad Museum intervention, stressing the material she’s been working with.
What makes Popp’s works interesting are not only the performances themselves, but that she shines light on the controversy that comes along with the emergence of a place, like the Broad Museum in Downtown, which is an example as to how American culture is run by the dollar. Thus it is not art historians or other art experts, but a wealthy patron such as Eli Broad who decides what supposed to be good and bad art and what should and shouldn’t be shown in a cultural institution, clearly compromising the “agency of the artist.”