Adrian Piper is an American conceptual artist and philosopher whose work addresses questions of identity through the lens of race and gender. In Piper’s work, the concepts addressed by the artwork take precedence over the form of the of the work itself in order to challenge normative understandings of the structures that shape the world which we occupy. Piper, who received an associates degree from the School of Visual Arts, a bachelors in philosophy from the City College of New York, a doctorate in philosophy from Harvard, and studied philosophy at the University of Heidelberg, is most directly influenced by Immanuel Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason. Like Kant, Piper believes that humans rely on preconceived categories, creations of the human mind which may or may not be valid in the “ideal” realm outside of human consciousness, to make sense of the world. Piper applies Kant’s idea of the preconceived category to race, arguing that race is a product of the mind, but with one important distinction; while Kant believes that these categories are fixed and universal, Piper sees them as mutable. In an interview with Maurice Berger, Critique of Pure Racism, Piper articulated that she hopes her artwork helps individuals confront their racist views. In March 1984 Piper participated in a discussion with Peter Kivy as part of a conference titled Philosophical Problems of the Invented Arts organized and moderated by Noel Carroll that included the premiere of her work “Funk Lessons.” This work was screened again the following month as part of the Downtown/Uptown Television Festival. For more information please visit: http://www.adrianpiper.com/.
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