Do Something

Check out Pap Souleye Fall's work

Visit Pap Souleye Fall’s website here and his Instagram here.

Fall is currently an iLAB residency cohort at the University of the Arts.


Be a patron of the arts

Organizations and opportunities to support art in Philly

Learn more about Forman Arts Initiative and the work they do.

Mural Arts Philadelphia is the largest public art program in the US. Its mission is to inspire change through participatory public art. You can book a tour in person or virtually and see “the world’s largest outdoor art gallery.”

The Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance is a non-profit dedicated to amplifying the voice of Philadelphia’s arts and culture community. Their services include the Creative Entrepreneur Accelerator Program, which connects creative entrepreneurs with small business consulting and financial resources to grow their businesses.

The Association for Public Art has, since 1872, worked to ensure Philadelphia is recognized as the premier city for public art. Their program objectives are to commission, preserve, interpret, and promote public art in Philadelphia.

The Philadelphia Citizen is taking the pulse of the arts scene in Philly. Here we feature 20 Black Artists to Watch, all local creators whose work is not to be missed.

The Philadelphia Music Alliance is a community-based nonprofit promoting Philadelphia’s rich musical tradition and supporting the current music scene.

Learn more about the Arts League, West Philadelphia’s hub for arts education.

Be a Better Philadelphia Citizen

Here's how

One of the founding tenets of The Philadelphia Citizen is to get people the resources they need to become better, more engaged citizens of their city.

We hope to do that in our Good Citizenship Toolkit, which includes a host of ways to get involved in Philadelphia — whether you want to contact your City Councilmember about supporting our arts and culture scene, get those experiencing homelessness the goods they need, or simply go out to dinner somewhere where you know your money is going toward a greater good.

Find an issue that’s important to you in the list below, and get started on your journey of A-plus citizenship.

Vote and strengthen democracy

Stand up for marginalized communities

Create a cleaner, greener Philadelphia

Help our local youth and schools succeed

Support local businesses

Art for Change: The Comic

Pap Souleye Fall plays with serious themes in multifarious spaces — comic cons, a waste recycling facility — the next in our series with Forman Arts Initiative

Art for Change: The Comic

Pap Souleye Fall plays with serious themes in multifarious spaces — comic cons, a waste recycling facility — the next in our series with Forman Arts Initiative

Pap Souleye Fall’s sculptures, drawings, installations, comics, and performances are instantly recognizable for their bright colors and mischievous humor, although they also contain a looming darkness. Fall often contemplates both the apocalypse and what it means to owe something to your fellow human. One example: sci-fi comic Oblivion Rouge, whose third volume he’s in the process of releasing.

Much of Fall’s current assemblage artwork has spawned from a residency with RAIR, an art studio inside a construction, demolition and recycling waste facility in Northeast Philadelphia. Fall is also currently part of the 10-person iLAB residency cohort at the University of the Arts, his alma mater. Once that program ends, he will return to Dakar, Senegal, where he grew up, for yet another residency, at Black Rock, founded by Obama portraitist Kehinde Wiley.

While Fall’s practice is quite eclectic, his recent endeavors have been grounded by his latest project, Dead Pixel, named for what happens when a pixel on a screen fails, appearing as a black or white spot. Dead Pixel is a comic, an embodied character, and a modality through which Fall has been creating work for the last few years. In public and art contexts, Fall performs as Dead Pixel, roaming about in a handmade outfit that mimics a motion capture suit, a wearable device used in animation that captures the movement of the wearer and translates it into digital data. This play between visibility and invisibility reflects Fall’s contemplations of our current digital and excessive world. He posits, “I was thinking about Dead Pixel, I was thinking about green screen, and I was wondering: What does it mean to sort of digest something in a healthy way?

As part of a partnership with Forman Arts Initiative, the Citizen caught up with Pap Souleye Fall. The interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.

How did you first develop Dead Pixel?

A friend of mine explained to me what dead pixels are. A dead pixel is a problem with the light, but it’s also rendered digitally. It’s this weird bridge between the physical, digital and analog, all happening all at the same time.

When I was living in Senegal a few years ago, there was a matchbox I had that had this stereotypical African figure on it. He’s holding a shoulder strap and it has two gourds on it. He’s by a palm tree, so I’m assuming he’s getting palm nectar, or something like that. That image was so strange to me, because on the bottom it said, “Impregnated matches, manufactured in Sweden.” It’s in English, and this is a Francophone country. I thought that it was an interesting intersection of historical information, present contemporary information but also this weird stereotypical image. So the matchbox was living under all these umbrellas of the past, present, future. One day I was like, I don’t like this, so I painted the figure green. I was like, oh my God, look at that little green figure. That’s Dead Pixel.

Dead Pixel became this sort of spiritual endeavor for me. I’ve done a lot of research around African performances, ritual performances, and how they’re meant to socialize. Even like, someone in an Elmo suit at a block party. That is a social tool and the dancing is to remind us of how we’re supposed to act with each other around each other.

Dead Pixel follows that practice of questioning: What are we socializing? How are we socializing? How are we together with people? And then obviously cosplaying and anime and all that stuff is also deeply in all of that. I had been doing performances and creating characters since high school. I would make clothes and outfits that I would wear. Once Dead Pixel hit, it felt like a culmination of all those things.

“Dead Pixel” performance. Photo by Andrés Altamirano

What does your artistic practice look like day-to-day?

I’ll jump from drawing, to video, to performance, to sculpture, and then finally to installation. When I’m not doing sculpture, I have to be drawing. When I’m not doing drawing, I have to be doing performance. When I’m not doing performance, I have to be doing some form of material investigation or making.

Do you make work compulsively, or do you create with a larger goal in mind?

It’s a bit of both. I’m compelled to fill out the storyline and universe that I’ve set in place for Dead Pixel. For Dead Pixel I wonder: What does the world look like? So that means I need to draw. I also go into writing too. If something is not piecing together well, I’ll do some form of writing in between sketching and sculpture. Creating helps me conceptualize, performance especially helps me. I’m doing a lot with performance this year because I feel like it’s such a great way to map out a whole lot of stuff without taking up too much space.

I think all of it really just boils down to conceptualizing and drawing, because there’s a certain freedom in drawing. I guess I feel that way with performance also, that you’re making images as you’re moving; it’s just a bunch of small images put together.

What did you love about Philly when you came here for college?

I was just excited to go to a city, but I really loved Philly. There was a lot of stuff going on. I was always out skating around looking for materials, and there was bountiful material everywhere. I was always building installations outside, in lots and stuff. I had built this installation on Broad and Washington, right on that northeast corner [where an apartment building is currently being built]. That was one of my favorite things I ever made. It was going to be this insane, crazy tunnel and I had it up there almost for a whole year while I was building on it. Then I came in one day and this guy pulled up in this really expensive car and was like, “You got to take this down.” And I was like, dang. It was funny.

But yeah, Philly felt like it was a huge point of growth for me as an artist and a person. I’ve made so many amazing friends while I was here and connected with people who really respect my work and are looking to push me and support and help me. That’s the most you can ask for as an artist.

Installation view of ITAINTTHATDEEP at Gratin Gallery, NYC, (2023). Photo by Andrés Altamirano

How did your collaboration with RAIR begin?

I found out about RAIR through seeing Abigail DeVille’s work at the ICA [Philadelphia’s Institute of Contemporary Art]. I was like, oh my God, I really want to do this. So when I came back to Philly, I was like, I’ve got to do the RAIR residency. That experience was amazing. As a space to create, it felt so abundant. Anything you wanted, you could have it. You just pray to the garbage gods and they’ll give it to you. I filled the entire room with so much trash on the first couple days that Billy Dufala [RAIR’s Co-founder and Creative Director] had to tell me, “Okay, you can stop now; there’ll always be more stuff.”

That experience became a huge influence in my work. I was always trying to include an environmental question into my work, because it was always kind of there. That developed while I was at RAIR, thinking about infinity and abundance next to capitalism. It just messed with me, in terms of thinking about the scale of what’s thrown away. It’s infinite, it can’t be quantified.

I was able to do a lecture with Abigail Deville and Billy, and that was one of the best conversations I’ve had. As an artist, you just keep making stuff and I think it’s important to also have a conversation and try to broaden the work, or funnel in on some specific ideas that you were thinking about.

Where do you see your artwork going in the future?

I have two places where I’ve thought about my work living. So far, none of my work has actually been collected, and I think I’m interested in a collection of some sort to happen, obviously. But the other side of my work also lives within a comic community. I’m always participating in whatever kind of fandom events. Those are nourishing for me. Right now, I’m trying to connect with that world and continue making “fine art” around those spaces.

I have an idea of doing a site-specific installation that would happen at a Comic Con [a convention for comic book aficionados], where there would be an install of Dead Pixel stuff, Dead Pixel merch, sculpture, or maybe some form of performance, all of it sort of living alongside these things, literally intersecting with culture, versus being like, oh, culture is influencing me. I’d literally also be a part of it, but also making art, and also participating.

“The Reckoning – Fleet DP AA TR”, (2022)

Your creative work seems very progressive, in the sense that it is always looking for new approaches.

A friend told me, I have a desire to not be completely Westernized. For me, not being Westernized means changing the way I think about my work and present it and what kinds of dialogues I’m trying to have. I have always had little ways that I like to do that, that allow me to remain fluid. I like formats that allow me to be like, “Hey, I’m also doing comics with some friends, I’m also doing this thing …” It’s about uplifting my community. It’s about sharing resources. It’s about feeling connected with people.

So I take that part of my practice really seriously. The question for me is: How do I bridge that into a fine art space? Is there a sustainable way to do that? Is there a way to create longer-lasting relationships? I don’t know. I don’t know if that’s possible, but that’s the dream.

Logan Cryer is a curator based in Philadelphia with a penchant for local art histories. They currently serve as the Co-Curator of Icebox Project Space and they like to rewatch documentaries.

This story is part of a partnership between The Philadelphia Citizen and Forman Arts Initiative to highlight creatives in every neighborhood in Philadelphia. It will run on both The Citizen and FAI’s websites.


The Philadelphia Citizen will only publish thoughtful, civil comments. If your post is offensive, not only will we not publish it, we'll laugh at you while hitting delete.

Be a Citizen Editor

Suggest a Story

Advertising Terms

We do not accept political ads, issue advocacy ads, ads containing expletives, ads featuring photos of children without documented right of use, ads paid for by PACs, and other content deemed to be partisan or misaligned with our mission. The Philadelphia Citizen is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, nonpartisan organization and all affiliate content will be nonpartisan in nature. Advertisements are approved fully at The Citizen's discretion. Advertisements and sponsorships have different tax-deductible eligibility. For questions or clarification on these conditions, please contact Director of Sales & Philanthropy Kristin Long at [email protected] or call (609)-602-0145.