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Adrian Piper

1948 | New York, United States
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Adrian Piper — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Courtesy Adrian Piper Research Archive

Sponsor
— Adrian Piper Research Archive Foundation Berlin

American conceptual artist, performer and philosopher.

Born in an African-American working-class family, Adrian Margaret Smith Piper grew up in Harlem but was able to access higher education thanks to scholarships. After graduating from the prestigious New York School of Visual Arts in 1969, she immediately associated herself with conceptual art – an artistic movement that gives prominence to the ideas conveyed by the artwork. However, her work stood out because of its highly political dimension: as from 1970, the questions of race and gender became central to her work, which echoed her experience as a black woman and her attempts to be acknowledged and accepted as such. Many of her texts and videos directly challenge the viewers or readers to take a stance. Her Political Self-Portraits 1-3 (1978-1980) are a reinterpretation of her youth in terms of belonging and exclusion: with her fairly light skin and straight hair, she was not perceived as “black enough” in Harlem, while still being one of the only African-Americans in the several schools she attended, where the racism she faced, although latent, remained nonetheless hurtful. The artist is mostly known for her performance art in the streets of New York: in the series Catalysis (1970-1971), she dressed in foul-smelling clothes and sat on the subway or in a bookstore so as to prompt intense reactions, both physiological and psychological, thus exceeding the purely intellectual reaction usually pursued by conceptual art.

Her explorations led her to study philosophy, particularly in Harvard, where she presented a dissertation in moral philosophy in 1981 under the direction of John Rawls. After teaching at Harvard and Georgetown, among others, she became the first African-American tenured professor in philosophy in the United States in 1987. However, after discovering during a journey abroad that she was listed as a “suspicious traveller,” she refused to return to her country. She consequently lost her tenure at Wellesley College and has since lived in Berlin, where she founded the Adrian Piper Research Archive, which collects various documents on her three-way practice (art, philosophy, yoga). She is the author of many articles and several philosophy books, especially about Hegel, Kant, political philosophy, and xenophobia.

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Klaus Speidel

From the Dictionnaire universel des créatrices
© 2013 Des femmes – Antoinette Fouque
© Archives of Women Artists, Research and Exhibitions
Adrian Piper — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Adrian Piper, Catalysis III, 1970, silver print, performance, Piper takes an outfit of hers and covering it in white paint. She then put a sign accross her shirt that said « WET PAINT » and walked down busy streets and went shopping at Macy’s, Courtesy Adrian Piper Research Archive

Adrian Piper — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Adrian Piper, Catalysis IV, 1971, silver print, performance, during evening rush on the trains and bus, she would dress nicely but stuff her mouth with a towel and let it hang out in plain view, Courtesy Adrian Piper Research Archive

Adrian Piper — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Adrian Piper, LSD Alice [Study for Alice Down the Rabbit Hole], 1965, colored felt-tipped pen, ballpoint pen, pencil on paper, 22.9 x 30 cm, Courtesy Adrian Piper Research Archive

Adrian Piper — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Adrian Piper, Utah-Manhattan Transfer #2, 1968, pencil, ball point pen, two collaged maps mounted of foamcore, Collage 2: Dugway Proving Grounds to NY Times Square, 30.5 x 30.3 cm, Courtesy Adrian Piper Research Archive

Adrian Piper — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Adrian Piper, Utah-Manhattan Transfer #1, 1968, pencil, ball point pen, two collaged maps mounted on foamcore, Collage 1: NY Times Square to Dugway Proving Grounds, 36 x 33.7 cm, Courtesy Adrian Piper Research Archive

Adrian Piper — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Adrian Piper, The Mythic Being : Doing Yoga, 1975, six silver prints, 20.3 x 25.4 cm, Courtesy Adrian Piper Research Archive

Adrian Piper — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Adrian Piper, This Is Not the Documentation of a Performance, 1976, silk-screened newspaper article with altered photograph and text, 124.5 x 114.3 cm, 49 x 45 in., Courtesy Adrian Piper Research Archive

Adrian Piper — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Adrian Piper, It’s Just Art, 1980, performance documentation, B&W offset poster, 27.5 x 35.9 cm ; performance diagram, 20.9 x 27.9 cm ; 15 silver gelatin photographs on baryte paper with handwritten texts, 30 x 21 cm ; 3 collages with handwritten texts, 25.4 x 20.3 cm ; video reconstruction of performance elements, 24’44’’, Courtesy Adrian Piper Research Archive

Adrian Piper — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Adrian Piper, It’s Just Art, 1980, photography of the installation of the performance, B&W offset poster, 27.5 x 35.9 cm ; performance diagram, 20.9 x 27.9 cm ; 15 silver gelatin photographs on baryte paper with handwritten texts, 30 x 21 cm ; 3 collages with handwritten texts, 25.4 x 20.3 cm ; video reconstruction of performance elements, 24’44’’, Courtesy Adrian Piper Research Archive

Adrian Piper — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Adrian Piper, The Big Four-Oh, 1988, video installation, 47’48’’ endless loop video ; open notebook journal with handwritten text 21.6 x 14 cm ; 40 hardballs, disassembled coat of armor, sealed jars of blood, sweat, tears, piss and vinegar, variable dimensions, Courtesy Adrian Piper Research Archive

Adrian Piper — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Adrian Piper, I am Somebody, The Body of My Friends #1-18, 1992-1995, 15 color photographs, 3 black and white photographs, unknown dimensions, Courtesy Adrian Piper Research Archive

Adrian Piper — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Adrian Piper, The Color Wheel Series #29 : Annomayakosha, 2000, digital images for print reproductions, unknown dimensions, Courtesy Adrian Piper Research Archive

Adrian Piper — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Adrian Piper, Mokshamudra Progression, 2012, set of nine digital prints, 312 x 40.5 cm, 122.83 x 15.94 in., Courtesy Adrian Piper Research Archive

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