Adrian Piper

Women in Power in the Arts

Adrian Margaret Smith Piper (1948- ) is a conceptual artist and analytical philosopher. Through her art and philosophical work, Piper forces audiences to critically engage with their deeply internalized social constructions of race, gender, identity, politics, and social engagement. Perhaps one of her more shocking actions came in 2012, when she announced her retirement from being black. The text overlaying a head shot where her skin tone was intentionally altered, reads as follows:

“Dear Friends, for my 64th birthday, I have decided to change my racial and nationality designations. Henceforth, my new racial designation will be neither black nor white, but rather 6.25% grey, honoring my 1/16th African heritage. And my new nationality designation will not be African American but rather Anglo-German American, reflecting my preponderantly English and German ancestry. Please join me in celebrating this exciting new adventure in pointless administrative precision and futile institutional control! (”

Now based in Berlin, Piper remains a formidable force in supporting and advocating for equitable treatment of other artists of color, even going so far as to walk out of gallery opening events when her work is shown as the token diversity sample.

The images to the right are samples of some of her work made available online through the Adrian Piper Research Archive Foundation Berlin. Additional artwork may be found here: Tulane University affiliates may also discover and explore numerous additional images in the ArtStor database made accessible through Howard-Tilton Memorial Library.

The video below features Adrian Piper giving an invited talk in 2014 at the National Academy of Art, Oslo, in commemoration of the centennial anniversary of women’s suffrage in Norway. Although the subject matter is not art-specific, this video reflects another, equally important aspect of Adrian Piper’s identity as an academic philosopher.

Suggested Resources Available at Howard-Tilton Memorial Library:

Rhea Anastas and Michael Brenson. Witness to Her Art: Art and Writings by Adrian Piper, Mona Hatoum, Cady Noland, Jenny Holzer, Kara Walker, Daniela Rossell and Eau de Cologne. Annandale-on-Hudson, NY: Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College, 2006. N8354 .W58 2006

John Parish Bowles. Adrian Piper: Race, Gender, and Embodiment. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2011. N6537.P5 B69 2011

Adrian Piper. Adrian Piper: What Follows. Boulder, CO.: University of Colorado, Visiting Artists Program, 1989. DVD 2006- 0403

Adrian Piper. Adrian Piper: A Reader. New York: Museum of Modern Art, 2018. N6537.P6 A4 2018b

Adrian Piper. Out of Order, Out of Sight. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1996. N6537.P5 2 1996

Tessa Ferreyos et al. Adrian Piper: A Synthesis of Intuitions, 1965-2016. New York: Museum of Modern Art, 2018. N6537.P5 A4 2018



Adrian Piper headshot
Adrian Piper, Thwarted Projects, Dashed Hopes, A Moment of Embarrassment (2012; digital self-portrait)
Adrian Piper, Vanilla Nightmares #13
Adrian Piper, It's Just Art
Adrian Piper, Everything #21