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(American, b. 1961)
108 letterpress posters
Mr. and Mrs. Richard W. Whitehill Art Purchase Endowment Fund and gift of David Lusenhop in honor of the artist 2018.33
Carl Pope describes The Bad Air Smelled of Roses as an ongoing essay about the presence and function of Blackness in society. To date, the work comprises 108 posters that present texts from a range of sources, including modern Black literature, René Descartes, jazz and rap music, Sigmund Freud, Malcolm X, Dolly Parton, movie dialogue from Casablanca and The Matrix, and a TV commercial for bubble bath. For Pope, Blackness is not limited to African American identity, but encompasses all that is unseen, unknown, oppressed, forgotten, or rejected. The posters therefore present varied and often conflicting voices that the artist hopes will challenge viewers to look beyond mainstream preconceptions and experience Blackness as a natural, expansive realm of alternative possibilities. The letterpress medium links this work with ephemeral printed materials typically used to create advertisements, flyers, and picket signs. Stapled to the wall like notices on the street, the posters confront the exclusivity of the fine art gallery as they vacillate between art and public discourse.
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