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Adrian Piper Pulls Out of “Radical Presence” Exhibition at Grey Art Gallery

Robin Cembalest reports in Artnews that artist Adrian Piper has pulled her work out of “Radical Presence: Black Performance in Contemporary Art,” an exhibition that’s currently up at the Grey Art Gallery. The monitor in the gallery that played video documentation of Piper’s canonic work, Mythic Being, 1973, in which she wore an Afro wig and wire-rimmed sunglasses and challenged public perceptions while navigating the streets of New York, had been shut off. Over the monitor, a note included parts of a letter from Piper that shed some light on her reasons for declining to participate. Wrote Piper: “I appreciate your intentions. Perhaps a more effective way to ‘celebrate [me], [my] work and [my] contributions to not only the art world at large, but also a generation of black artists working in performance,’ might be to curate multi-ethnic exhibitions that give American audiences the rare opportunity to measure directly the groundbreaking achievements of African American artists against those of their peers in ‘the art world at large.’”

The note also included a response from the show’s curator, Valerie Cassel Oliver, who wrote: “It is clear, that some experiences are hard to transcend and that stigmas about blackness remain not only in the public’s consciousness, but also in the consciousness of artists themselves. It is my sincere hope that exhibitions such as ‘Radical Presence’ can one day prove a conceptual game changer.”

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