Adrian Piper

American philosopher and artist who boycotts America

Piper was this year the subject of the largest retrospective ever dedicated by New York’s MoMA to a living artist (it is now touring to the Hammer Museum in LA). At once belated and timely, the survey was recognition of a career spanning five decades in which Piper has harnessed a fierce intellect and sharp wit to the production of work with considerable political clout. The American-born, Berlin-based philosopher and conceptual artist, who hasn’t set foot in the US since learning in 2005 that she was on a US watch list for ‘suspicious travellers’, seeks to expose the infrastructures through which racism is exercised. As such she is an influence on a generation of artists increasingly inclined to mix media and modes of display in exploring the intersections of class and colour, art and the real world. Famously unwilling to suffer fools, notably ill-informed journalists, Piper offers an example of how an artist can use the discourse around her work to reinforce the very points about (mis)representation that it makes.