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Adrian Piper, Past Times: Selected Works 1973-1995


Elizabeth Dee Gallery (22nd Street)
548 West 22nd Street, 212-924-7545
October 23 - December 11, 2010
Reception: Saturday, October 23, 4 - 6 PM
Web Site

Elizabeth Dee proudly presents Past Time: Selected Works 1973-1995, a solo historical exhibition by Adrian Piper centered around rarely seen bodies of work made during the period widely regarded as her most difficult, confrontational and influential. The exhibition will occupy the 10,000 sq. ft. second floor of 548 West 22nd Street with large-scale installations, serial sculptures, wall works and videos that traverse the political aspect in art, integrating performative methods and autobiographical, familial content in ways that established a new discourse around identity and dissent at the end of the 20th Century.

The seven-part sculptural series What It’s Like, What It Is #2 (1991), commissioned by the Hirshhorn Museum and not exhibited since 1992, breaks from Piper’s Conceptual use of the frame and grid, confronting the viewer with photographic cut-out figures both iconic and anonymous sourced from movements in American History, from the civil rights era to the early 1990s. In each iteration, red text superimposed over appropriated newsprint spells “Forget”—-a formal strategy that Piper began in the late ‘80s with the Ur-Mutter works, one of which is also included in the exhibition. Other, grid-based works such as the Decide Who You Are (1992) series and Ashes to Ashes (1995) expand this motif, incorporating fields of text into triptychs that juxtapose self-portraits and portraits of family members with appropriated and archival photographs dealing with American political issues revolving around race, racism, neoliberalism and the Right. The exhibition will also present a special opportunity to see a range of the artist’s video practice with installed, theatrical screenings of the 20th Century Video Set, a compendium of her time-based works for camera.

This is Adrian Piper’s second solo exhibition with Elizabeth Dee, following Everything in 2008. She has shown extensively for the past five decades, in solo and group contexts, and has been the subject of numerous survey exhibitions including Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona (2003); Generali Foundation, Vienna (2002); New Museum, New York (2000); The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2000); Kunstverein München, Munich (1992); Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, England (1991); and Alternative Museum, New York (1987).

Since the late 1960s, Adrian Piper has forged a unique artistic practice that infused classical Minimal sculptural form with explicit political content and introduced issues of race, gender and identity politics into the vocabulary of Conceptual art. She has deployed permutation and seriation--which at the time that Piper began using them were considered non-traditional artistic media—as strategies for investigating the infinite variability of perceptual form and content. In recent years, her artwork has begun to intersect more explicitly with her philosophical work, resulting in a reconsideration of space, time, and infinity in defining the limits and potential permutability of the self as situated on a pre-established grid defined by social and political variables of race, sex, class conflict, and social relations.

A forthcoming monograph published by Gregory R. Miller & Co. will feature essays by Diarmuid Costello, Helmut Draxler, and Jörg Heiser.

The exhibition is the gallery’s first manifestation at 548 West 22nd Street, the former home of the Dia Center for the Arts and X Initiative. Concurrent exhibitions at 545 West 20th Street are Mark Barrow, through October 23rd, and Miranda Lichtenstein, opening November 5th.
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