Kristen Osborne-Bartucca reviews Nancy Popp in Artillery 8.7.14

Nancy Popp at Klowden Mann

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Nancy Popp’s current solo exhibition at Klowden Mann, closing on August 9th, is the perfect exhibition to attend if you are not sure whether or not you are in the mood for photography, video, performance art or photographs of performance art. For the past several years Popp has been intervening in unfinished architectural spaces, such as the San Francisco Museum of Art and the Broad Museum construction sites, climbing poles, scaling walls, or moving her body throughout the urban space. As she does this, she uses bright orange Mason Line to trace her pathway through the skeletal structures. Five of these performance sites are captured in black-and-white photographs for the exhibition; Mason Line also perforates and crisscrosses the prints to mimic what she did in her performances. An accompanying video of the performances themselves and Popp’s explanation of her motives and methods plays in the back of the gallery.

 

Popp has stated that her intention in her performances is to subvert hierarchies of gender and power, and the photographs here ably manifest that desire. She intervenes in architectural sites that impart a masculine sensibility in their size and grandiosity, as well as in the association of the construction industry with men, and uses her female body to assert herself within the site. Furthermore, the string-like appearance of the line and its virtual weaving in and out of both the urban spaces and the photographs of the spaces alludes to arts and crafts, but is complicated by virtue of the “string” actually being a building material. Also antagonistic toward entrenched money and power, she is not cowed by rules or norms dictating she stay out of the restricted construction sites as well as pay them proper respect; rather, she coolly disregards such impediments and uses them as she wishes in order to impart her trenchant social and political commentary about the use of funds and resources for such projects and who actually benefits from them. In particular, her performance at the Broad Museum construction site called attention to the deleterious actions of Eli Broad’s construction company, KB Homes and the problematic intersection of money and art in the urban environment of Los Angeles.

 

 

Popp brings her physical performance to the gallery space with the exhibition’s largest photograph, a construction site in a rapidly gentrifying area in Dallas, which she intervened in for DB14, the Dallas Biennial. The photograph is mounted mural-style on a large wall extending out into the center of the gallery, its back exposed and unfinished, suggestive of the unfinished sites Popp frequents. On the opening night of the exhibition, Popp drilled into this wall and strung the Mason Line through the holes, up into the rafters of the ceiling, and connected it to two smaller works near the entrance of the gallery. When the exhibition closes on August 9th, she plans to destroy the mural in front of an audience. Her tools—sledgehammers, gloves and spooled Line—rest haphazardly at the foot of the wall, suggesting the artist’s previous actions and foreshadowing what is to come. The presence of these materials indoors, as well as the photographs’ conveyance of her outdoor performances in sites that, due to their unfinished nature, do not really have an interior, offers insights into the function of architectural spaces and the ways in which the body moves within them.

NANCY POPP
June 28 – August 9, 2014
CLOSING PERFORMANCE: August 9th, 3 – 5 pm