Scratch Space:

The Appearance of Black Lives Matter

Thursday, September 10, 2020, 12PM - 1PM

VENUE: Online

Montalvo Box Office: 408-961-5858

Carl Pope: The Appearance of Black Lives Matter
Poster: Carl Pope / Photo: Karen Kysar/WDR + G, "Pico the Long Trail, Mendon, VT" (2020)

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Join us for a conversation with activist and scholar Nicholas Mirzoeff, visual artist Carl Pope, and poet Karen Pope as they discuss their collaborative work, and revisit their 2018 publication The Appearance of Black Lives Matter from the perspective of our current moment of racial reckoning. We’ll explore the challenges of allyship; the role of art and scholarship in revealing and dismantling systems of oppression; and the value of collaboration in reframing and reimagining cultural paradigms.


(Click to expand bios.)


Nicholas Mirzoeff is a visual activist, working at the intersection of politics, race and global/visual culture. Among his many publication, The Right to Look: A Counterhistory of Visuality (2011) won the Anne Friedberg Award for Innovative Scholarship from the Society of Cinema and Media Studies in 2013. How To See The World was published by Pelican in the UK (2015) and by Basic Books in the US (2016). It has been translated into ten languages and was a New Scientist Top Ten Book of the Year for 2015. The Appearance of Black Lives Matter was published in 2017 as a free e-book, and in 2018 as a limited edition print book with the art project The Bad Air Smelled Of Roses by Carl Pope and a poem by Karen Pope, both by NAME Publications, Miami. Since the 2017 events in Charlottesville, Mirzoeff has been active in the movement to take down statues commemorating settler colonialism and/or white supremacy, and convened the collaborative syllabus All The Monuments Must Fall. He curated Decolonizing Appearance, an exhibit at the Center for Art Migration Politics in Copenhagen, Denmark  (September 2018-March 2019). A frequent blogger and writer, especially for the art magazine Hyperallergic, his work has appeared in The Nation, The New York Times, Frieze, The Guardian, Time and The New Republic. Mirzoeff was selected as a Lucas Artists Program Curatorial Fellow in 2019. He is a 2020-21 ACLS/Mellon Scholar and Society fellow in residence at Magnum Foundation in New York City. Mirzoeff lives and works in New York where he serves as Professor of Media, Culture, and Communication at New York University.


Carl R. Pope is an interdisciplinary conceptual artist who uses intertextuality to reveal, reflect, and create interconnections between viewers of his work and the broader culture. Pope was born in 1961 in Indianapolis, Indiana. He is committed to the idea of art as a catalyst for individual and collective transformation.  His work has been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, New York and the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago, Illinois, Tennessee State University, Nashville, Tennessee; Museum of Contemporary Art, Detroit, Michigan, the Galerie Nouvelles Images, Den Haag, the Netherlands; and the Mobile Museum of Art, Mobile, Alabama. Pope has received support from the Guggenheim Foundation, Lilly Endowment, NEA and Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation. He has been honored by the International Peace Belt and as a joint fellow with the Baker-Nord Center for the Humanities, Case Western Reserve University and the Cleveland Institute of Art.  His work gained national and international attention in New Photography 6 at the Museum of Modern Art, and Black Male at the Whitney Museum of American Art. Pope’s works are included the collections of the George Eastman House/Kodak, Rochester, New York; Indiana Historical Society, Indianapolis, Indiana; Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indianapolis, Indiana; Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minneapolis, Minnesota; Mobile Museum of Art, Mobile, Alabama; Museum of Modern Art, New York, New York; St. Louis Art Museum, St. Louis, Missouri; the Children’s Museum, Indianapolis, Indiana; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. Pope frequently works on large-scale public art projects and collaborates with communities and cities to stimulate public dialogue and revitalization. His recent text-based letterpress poster and billboard projects signal a return to his interests in advertising, mass media, public art and grassroots activism. Recent projects include Pope’s collaboration with poet Karen Pope, visual activist Nicholas Mirzoeff, and Lisa Martin and the Women’s Darkroom + Gallery to print and make available for free distribution two posters from Pope’s The Bad Air Smelled of Roses, an ongoing, endless essay about referential signs of Blackness in poster form, which appeared in the 2018 book The Appearance of Black Lives Matter. Posters from this ephemeral public art project developed in response to the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests have appeared in US cities, including New York, Minneapolis, Davis, and Los Angeles, in trails in Vermont, and internationally in Margate and Kent in the UK. Pope was a Lucas Artists Program Fellow in 2006, and 2015.  He lives and works in Indianapolis, Indiana.


Karen R. Pope was born in 1961 in Indianapolis, Indiana along with her twin brother, Carl R. Pope.  Pope credits the combined influences of 60’s television programs, 70’s music, comic books and comic strips, a huge interest in Metaphysics, and the vividness of stories told by her mother and paternal grandfather in helping to inform her artistic practice as a poet, writer, and installation artist. Even before learning to read and write, she developed a fascination with how cartoons and television programs spelled out concussive sounds and guttural noises, like Ka-Pow, Boom, Bang, Ugh, Yikes, and Boo, and this helped her to cultivate a keen sense of inflection and a love of words.  Without her brother’s curiosity and presence of mind, however, Pope doubts she would have ever have considered herself an artist. Carl R. Pope’s discovery of his sister’s writings led to numerous innovative collaborations between the two artists, including image and text installations exhibited at Wadsworth Athenaeum Museum of Art in Hartford, Connecticut; The Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati, Ohio; The International Center of Photography in New York, New York; and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, New York. With her poetry and writing, Pope endeavors to have her voice speak from the position of witness with profound clarity as opposed to an entangled victim of circumstances. She states, “as I testify as witness, my focus is on using all of my senses (subtle and overt) to tell it…to tell my truth…all the while constantly searching for language that will best give inflection to my lived experiences that are often nuanced. I offer up that my intent…my focus is honed and polished by causality.” Pope lives and works in Indianapolis, Indiana.