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Elizabeth A.Sackler Center for Feminist Art

Adrian Piper


Piper (b. 1948) is a first-generation conceptual artist who began exhibiting her work internationally at the age of twenty and graduated from the School of Visual Arts in 1969. While continuing to produce and exhibit her artwork, she received a B.A. in Philosophy from the City College of New York in 1974 and a Ph.D. in Philosophy from Harvard in 1981 under the supervision of John Rawls. She studied Kant and Hegel with Dieter Henrich at the University of Heidelberg in 1977-1978 and has taught Philosophy at Georgetown, Harvard, Michigan, Stanford, and UCSD. She has been a Non-Resident Fellow of the New York Institute for the Humanities at New York University since 1994 and was a Scholar at the Getty Research Institute in 1998-1999. She has received Guggenheim, AVA, NEA, NEH, Andrew Mellon, Woodrow Wilson, IFK and Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin Research Fellowships, as well as the Skowhegan Medal for Sculptural Installation and the New York Dance & Performance Award (the Bessie) for Installation & New Media. Her principal publications are in metaethics, Kant, and the history of ethics. Following in the steps of trailblazing pioneer Dr. Joyce Mitchell Cook, Piper was the first tenured African American woman professor in the field of philosophy. She introduced issues of race and gender into the vocabulary of Conceptual art and explicit political content into Minimalism. In 2000 she expanded the vocabulary of Conceptual art to encompass Hindu philosophical concepts. Her artwork is in many collections. Her sixth traveling retrospective, Adrian Piper since 1965, closed at the Museum of Contemporary Art of Barcelona in 2004. Her two-volume collection, OUT OF ORDER, OUT OF SIGHT:Selected Writings in Meta-Art and Art Criticism 1967 – 1992 (MIT Press, 1996), is now available in paperback. She has recently finished her two-volume project in Kantian metaethics, Rationality and the Structure of the Self, Volume I: The Humean Conception, and Volume II: A Kantian Conception. Piper began her study and practice of yoga in 1965 with the Upanishads and Swami Vishnudevananda’s Complete Book of Yoga. She studied with Swami Satchidananda from 1966, became a svanistha in 1971 and a brahmacharin in 1985. Since then she has studied at Kripalu with Gitanand and with Arthur Kilmurray, Patricia Walden, Chuck Miller, Erich Schiffmann, Leslie Bogart, Richard Freeman, Tim Miller, David Swenson, Gary Kraftsow, Georg Feuerstein, David Frawley, and John Friend. She lives and works in Berlin.

Feminist Artist Statement

March 2007 Adrian Piper

Df. “Feminism”*

Feminism is that state of affairs in which women compete with men to give support and encouragement to one another, rather than competing with one another for rewards and approval doled out by men.

Feminism, anyone?

I consider myself to be a feminist, according to this definition, because I work to achieve a feminist state of affairs in my personal and professional relationships with other women. I do not consider myself to be a feminist artist because I do not do my artwork in order to achieve this state of affairs, nor is this state of affairs the primary subject matter of most of my artwork. When asked to speak to this issue, my practice is to reiterate the same criticism I made in Political Self-Portrait #1 (1979). Following is a more recent version of that criticism:

I answer this request with observations based on my personal experience and not on theoretical analyses I have read (not many) or public pronouncements I have heard (too many). I continue to hope that I will encounter some feminism in my lifetime. So far I haven’t gotten lucky. We took the first step toward feminism in the 1920s and the second in the 1960s. But we still are not even close to anything that deserves the name of feminism. Aside from all of those theoretical analyses and public pronouncements, today I mostly encounter the same dysfunction I criticized in Political Self-Portrait #1 [Sex] in 1979: We are still competing with one another for approval and rewards doled out by men. We are still subordinating our familial, social and professional relationships with one another to our familial, social and professional relationships with men. And we are still advancing our narrow self-interests with men at the expense of our deeper wellbeing and interests in one another.

*© Adrian Piper Research Archive 2007

1)“I Answer This Request with Observations,” Gloria: Another Look at Feminist Art in the 1970s (exhibition catalogue) (New York: White Columns, 2002), 2

Julie Starobin

Collection David Auerbach

Julie Starobin

Collection David Auerbach

Hypothesis Situation #14

Collection Adrian Piper Research Archive

Catalysis III

Collection Thomas Erben

Political Self-Portrait #1 (sex)

Collection Adrian Piper Research Archive

Self-Portrait Exaggerating My Negroid Features

Collection Eileen and Peter Norton

Ur-Mutter #5

Collection Michael and Susan Hort

Decide Who You Are #15: You Don’t Want Me here (Detail)

Collection Adrian Piper Research Archive



Adrian Piper Research Archive Postfach 54 02 04
Berlin, 10042



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