As a philosopher and conceptual artist, Adrian Piper seeks to use the photographic lens as a means to raise often uncomfortable and provocative questions about identity, race, classism and gender. Her body of work prods into the very personal and private lives of her subjects asking us to rethink who they are and how they identify whilst in return twisting the question back onto us: who are we really and to what extent does the outside world shape and define us? By drawing on her experience as an academic, artist and person of mixed racial heritage, Piper imbues her work, which ranges from photography to performance and fine art, with a critical undertone that helped forge the conceptual art movement and inspired a whole generation of multidisciplinary artists like Barbara Kurger and Cindy Sherman. Some career highlights include her academic papers in Kantian metaethics, her memoir Escape to Berlin and MoMa’s retrospective Adrian Piper: A Synthesis of Intuitions 1965–2016 which offers a glimpse into the artist’s five-decade career. Adrian Piper is now based in Berlin where she runs the APRA Foundation Berlin and works as an editor for The Berlin Journal of Philosophy.
By Gabriella Gasparini