Adrian Piper

(born 1948, New York, New York; lives and works in Berlin, Germany)

At the request of the artist, the film Adrian Piper: Becoming the Mythic Being has been removed from the exhibition.

Adrian Piper is a celebrated pioneer in conceptual and performance art as well as analytic philosophy. Born in New York City, Piper studied visual art and philosophy, exhibiting her work nationally and internationally from the late 1960s onward. In 1987, she became the first African American woman to be tenured as a professor of philosophy. Piper’s earliest performance works explored the constructions of identity as well as their impact on states of consciousness and perception. These groundbreaking performances introduced issues of race and gender into the vocabulary of conceptual art, opening up this ostensibly “pure” theoretical space to real, lived experience.

In her germinal “Mythic Being” series, begun in 1973 while Piper was a graduate student at Harvard, she developed a male alter ego—donning an Afro wig, sunglasses, and a mustache—who walked through the city enacting gestures of masculinity while reciting pages from Piper’s journal. Along the way, Piper documented how she and others responded to the Mythic Being. Featured in the present exhibition is Piper’s interview with Australian filmmaker Peter Kennedy for his series Other Than Art’s Sake (1973). During the course of their conversation, Piper transforms herself into the character—donning a wig and mustache—all the while articulating a philosophical framework for identity. Transformed, she finally walks away and down a busy city street, reciting a line taken from her diary.

Adrian Piper received her BA from the City College of New York in 1974 and a PhD from Harvard University in 1981. Her select solo exhibitions include Adrian Piper: Vote/Emote, Elizabeth Dee Gallery, New York (2012); Sol LeWitt and Adrian Piper, Bowery Poetry Club, New York (2011); Everything #4, Center for Art, Design, and Visual Culture, Baltimore (2011); Adrian Piper: The Mythic Being, Smart Museum of Art, University of Chicago (2006); Adrian Piper since 1965, Generali Foundation, Vienna (2002, traveling); MEDI(t)Ations: Adrian Piper’s Videos, Installations, Performances, and Soundworks, 1968–1992, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2000, traveling); Adrian Piper: A Retrospective, Fine Arts Gallery, University of Maryland, Baltimore (1999, traveling); Adrian Piper: The Mythic Being, 1972–1975, Thomas Erben Gallery, New York (1998); Space, Time, and Reference, 1967–1970, John Weber Gallery, New York (1992); Out of the Corner, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (1990); Adrian Piper: Reflections, 1967–1987, Alternative Museum, New York (1987); Adrian Piper at Matrix 56, Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, CT (1980); and One Man (sic), One Work, New York Cultural Center (1969). Her group exhibitions include This Will Have Been: Art, Love, and Politics in the 1980s, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (2012, traveling); The Deconstructive Impulse: Women Artists Reconfigure the Signs of Power, 1973–1991, Neuberger Museum of Art, Purchase College, State University of New York, Purchase (2011, traveling); In Deed: Certificates of Authenticity in Art, De Vleeshal, Middelburg, Netherlands (2011); The Talent Show, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (2010); 29th Bienal de Sao Paulo (2010); Move: Choreographing You, Hayward Gallery, London (2010); The Quick and the Dead, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (2009); Reframing the Color Line: Race and the Visual Culture of the Atlantic World, William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (2009); NeoHooDoo: Art for a Forgotten Faith, Menil Collection, Houston (2008, traveling); The Space Between, Nordana Kulturcentrum, Skelleftea, Sweden (2008); In Plain Sight: Street Works and Performances, 1968–1971, Laboratory of Art + Ideas at Belmar, Lakewood, CO (2008); WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2007, traveling); Role Play: Feminist Art Revisited, 1960–1980, Galerie Lelong, New York (2007); Panic Attack! Art in the Punk Years, Barbican Art Gallery, London (2007); Cinema Remixed and Reloaded: Black Women Artists and the Moving Image since 1970, Contemporary Arts Museum Houston and Spelman College Museum of Fine Art, Atlanta (2007–9); Photography and the Self: The Legacy of F. Holland Day, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2006); Double Consciousness: Black Conceptual Art since 1970, Contemporary Arts Museum Houston (2005); Evidence of Impact: Art and Photography, 1963–1978, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2004); Only Skin Deep, International Center of Photography, New York (2003); Documenta 11, Kassel, Germany (2002); Double Life: Identity and Transformation in Contemporary Arts, Generali Foundation, Vienna (2001); One Planet under a Groove, Bronx Museum of the Arts, Bronx, NY (2001); Global Conceptualism: Points of Origin, 1950s–1980s, Queens Museum of Art, Queens, NY (1999); Trace, Liverpool Biennial of Contemporary Art, View, Liverpool, England (1999); Out of Actions: Between Performance and the Object, 1949–1979, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (1998); If I Ruled the World, Shedhalle, Zurich (1997); Africus, South African Biennale, Johannesburg (1995); Cornered, Paula Cooper Gallery, New York (1995); Now Here, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebaek, Denmark (1995); Mappings, Museum of Modern Art, New York (1994); Black Male: Representations of Masculinity in Contemporary American Art, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (1994); The Theater of Refusal: Black Art and Mainstream Criticism, Fine Arts Gallery, University of California, Irvine (1993, traveling); The Boundary Rider, 9th Biennale of Sydney, Gallery of New South Wales (1992); The Art of Advocacy, Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art, Ridgefield, CT (1991); Word as Image: American Art, 1960–1990, Milwaukee Art Museum (1990); Art as a Verb, Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore (1988); The Black and White Show, Kenkeleba House, New York (1984); A Decade of New Art, Artists Space, New York (1984); The Black and White Show, Kenkeleba House, New York (1983); The Gender Show, Group Material, New York (1981); A Decade of Women’s Performance Art, National Women’s Caucus for Art Conference, New Orleans (1980); Paris Biennale, Musee d’Art Moderne, Paris (1977); Paris Biennale, Musee d’Art Moderne, Paris (1971); and Concept Art, Stadtisches Museum, Leverkusen, Germany (1969).