March 22, 2007

Mythic "Being"

Administrator’s note: This week we read the transcript of Adrian Piper’s ‘Cornered’ video-installation. Nicholas Carr posts this week, to address the various ‘issues’ of identity, image and ‘being.’

It seems as though Adrian Piper speaks about a problem of racial classification but only further entrenches the differences she perceives. Her statements are very antagonistic not only to "white" readers, she states very clearly that if you have an issue with anything she is saying – YOU have a problem. That sets you on the defensive and implies that if you object to anything she’s saying you are a racist. That is no way to have a conversation.

In the beginning of the writing Piper seems to imply that if she doesn’t state that she is "black," she is "white" – she is "black," whether or not she states it. I am "white," and it will be that way whether or not I state it. When there is an issue with anyone BEING who they are, we need to address it. Is Piper suggesting the fact that she has to identify herself as "black" is the real problem? Would she rather have a situation where she did not have to wave her banner? Or should more people who are "black," wave their flag? It is unclear in the end. There seems to be a double standard.

Reading for 28 March: Chapter 15, The Mythology of Difference: Vulgar Identity Politics at the Whitney Biennial by Charles A. Wright, Jr.


Liana said...

because adrian piper, in her art catagorizes everyone as either being black or white, she is forcing every viewer/reader into a racist sling. You either agree with her viewpoint and 'understand' her situation and artwork, or you are inevitably a (white) racist. I feel as though she is very articulate in this argument, persuading viewers/readers that this must be the true situation. she doesn't acknowledge the vast amount of gray scale between these two races and ideas.

patrickjdonovan said...

I think Adrian Piper's work pushes the envelope of what is visual art. There is something about the fact that the primary operative feature of this work is verbal, i.e. an haranguing speech, that takes it out of the realm of visual art. Although it is presented as a video, there is apparently nothing about the video aspect that is integral to the work. The video is no more than a mechanism for reproducing the speech. If this work is performance art, it is essentially a spoken performance, a short one act play in which the actor confronts the audience. That said, however, as a spoken performance it seems to be effective in terms of causing viewers to think about race issues.

Antea Roberts said...

Is Piper forcing a race issue where there is none? Had this video been Piper speaking of other issues, the first thought in my mind wouldn't have been "Oh- she's black". The first words out of her mouth are statements about her race and accusations telling us we're racist (basically) so of course it's about race issues. But telling us something, and us coming to conclusions or statements about her race on our own would have been a more effective way of going about it.

Randolph said...

Is race integral in defining ones art? Establishing identity becomes a double edged sword, because while it allows a work to be placed within a cultural identity, it then also references the work that came before it. This sort of refernce if not carefully calculated could dilute ones message, or place it in a different context. In response to Patricks reply, I believe that Adrian's message becomes distorted by its accusatory tone. by responding for your audience you, inevitably eliminate the need for them.

Jessica v said...

In response to Randolph's reply: I disagree with your statement about her eliminating the need for the audience. When she tells us how we feel we either react by thinking yes, she's right or no, I don't feel that way. But what she's really doing is making us question ourselves. If we don't ascribe to any of the ways she is telling us we feel than we are forced to figure out what we really think.