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Concerning ConsequencesStudies in Art, Destruction, and Trauma$
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Kristine Stiles

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780226774510

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226304403.001.0001

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Thunderbird Immolation: William Pope.L and Burning Racism (2002)1

Thunderbird Immolation: William Pope.L and Burning Racism (2002)1

(p.244) Thunderbird Immolation: William Pope.L and Burning Racism (2002)1
Concerning Consequences

Kristine Stiles

University of Chicago Press

This chapter examines William Pope.L's Thunderbird Immolation, a work of art that brings humor into the context of racism. Thunderbird Immolation (and other street works like Roach Motel, 1978) is socially aggressive and confrontational in the manner of Adrian Piper's early Catalysis pieces. While performance art is fundamentally a figurative practice deeply intertwined with the development of figurative painting, sculpture, and photography from history painting and various types of social realism to documentary, Pope.L's performative intervention in the spaces of the elite Soho commercial art market also realized a high level of conceptual abstraction. Pope.L expresses his fury in what is best known as “black humor”.

Keywords:   black humor, William Pope.L, Thunderbird Immolation, racism, performance art, photography, painting, social realism

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