The Mythic Being

Adrian Piper began The Mythic Being in 1973, merging a male alter ego (the Mythic Being) with episodes from her own personal history. The project, which includes photographs, drawings, and performances, first took shape in a series of seventeen newspaper advertisements in New York’s Village Voice. In each advertisement the artist appears in drag accompanied by a « thought bubble » filled with text from a journal entry she wrote as a teenager. These adolescent texts became the artist’s personal mantras: during the month in which an ad appeared, Piper would repeat the text over and over, to « reexperience it, examine, and analyze it, » she has said. The combination of public revelation and private contemplation was an exorcism of sorts, the artist has explained. « The experience of the Mythic Being thus becomes part of the public history and is no longer a part of my own. »

Born in New York in the late 40s, Adrian Piper began exhibiting her work internationally at the age of 20, and graduated from the School of Visual Arts at 21 with a Fine Art degree focusing on painting and sculpture. As an artist, Piper is deeply personal and complex, and her far-reaching oeuvre extends across photography, drawing, sculpture, immersive installation, literature, and performance. Through these mediums, she introduced American politics into minimalism, and themes of race and gender into conceptual art, which she addresses with deeply personal and intuitive accounts of the human condition through her experiences as a woman of colour. Above all, Piper has completely owned the idea of direct action within art: the powerful energy of all of her works intending to spark action in viewers about their perceptions of social constructs and to use this understanding to change the world.