About the artist
Adrian Piper (U.S., 1948) is a conceptual artist of the first generation. She is also a philosopher and taught for many years at various universities including Harvard and Stanford. From the late 1960s onwards, she developed performances expressing her critique on minimalism and the conceptual art movement, in which the body was presented as a universal model and gender and skin colour were neglected. According to Piper, the body is always interpreted through a cultural lens. With her work – which sometimes takes a participatory form – she often asks her audience to directly draw such analyses, and challenge existing social structures.
About the artwork
A good example of this are the Funk Lessons she organised between 1982 and 1984. Funk is a language of collective self-expression originating from African tribal music and dance, which gained enormous popularity among the black population in the United States in the 1960s and 70s. For a long time however, it remained largely inaccessible to the white population. This was partly due to the strict social etiquette and performance-oriented nature of dance within white culture. During her Funk Lessons, Piper introduces a predominantly white audience to the social and transcendental aspects of funk.
Statement Edson Sabajo & Guillaume Schmidt
Guillaume: ‘This is a brilliant artist, a highlight of the show. What’s great is that she literally puts you in our shoes. As a black person you’re often misunderstood, in some respects this is comparable to the uncomfortable feeling you might have on hearing music you don’t understand or know how to move to. She closely connects these things in an incredibly simple way.’