Untitled (Street Performances), 2005-2008, is a video and graphics installation that chronicled a series of actions which find artist Nancy Popp escaping the norms and boundaries of urban space. In various cities, she climbs street poles and signposts, temporarily positioning herself above the street, stores, and citizens. This gesture of empowerment and elevation questions notions of regulated public space and private desire, while conjuring the history of protest and activism, publicity stunts, and endurance events. Popp wrote: “The body becomes a temporary marker signifying transgression, an attempt to top the hierarchies inherent in the vertical landscape. But climbing a street pole is a seemingly ridiculous and pointless act. Its motivation is unclear, private or idiosyncratic.”
The video documentation of Popp’s performances often highlights the stillness of her act as contrasted with the movements of passersby. In conjunction with her installation at the Contemporary, she performed climbs in unique neighborhoods of Atlanta including Virginia Highlands, Centennial Park, and Five Points. This live component helped to highlight the physical and legal risks that can occur when an artist decides to empower herself in real time and place.
Nancy Popp lives and works in Los Angeles, CA. She has participated in exhibitions including Project Enduring Look at the Art Institute of Chicago; Draw a Line and Follow It at Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (LACE), and Movement and the Visual Arts at the Getty Center, Los Angeles. She has performed street climbs in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Dusseldorf, and Berlin.