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Adrian Piper

Adrian Margaret Smith Piper has been involved in various fields of study and production. She received a BA in Philosophy from the City College of New York in 1974 and a PhD in Philosophy from Harvard in 1981. She began her study and practice of yoga in 1965, became a svanistha in 1971 and a brahmacharin in 1985. Piper has been involved in conceptual art from its early beginnings. Her experiences have resulted in a detailed diary, which has been published by the monthly magazine Village Voice. Structuring all her past experiences is in a way a sign of her engagement with philosophy and the reason why she chose to study Kant and Hegel further. That could explain her urge to write a three volume book: Rationality and the Structure of the Self, Volume 1: The Humean Conception. Volume 2: Kant’s Metaethics. Volume 3: A Kantian Conception.

During the years, she has continuously stated her standpoint and preserved her critical positioning, while taking active part in public discussions. She introduced issues of race and gender into the vocabulary of Conceptual Art and explicit political content into Minimalism. Piper strongly rejects racism and the narrowing definitions of the self.
She has realised audience related performances, installations, drawings with current issues from newspapers as subject matter. In her sound pieces / performances, various forms of music influence her: from a capella to funk/rhythm and blues songs and on. Her sound recording performance, Bach Whistled from 1970, is a performance soundtrack in which she whistles along to recordings of Bach’s Concertos in D Minor, A Minor, and C Major, respectively. Through the continuous whistling a great stamina and body strength is transmitted. The whistling is in harmony with the concerts although sometimes Piper fails to follow the tune or produce the exact notes. The wish to participate and associate and express the joy of being a participant is emphasised by the continuous commitment to the performance.
The reason for choosing Bach as a figure to associate herself with could be that Bach is the pioneer of the composition of fugues, which have been regarded as impossible to compose – because of the limited composition of notes. In this respect he took a step forward and has changed the whole analytical approach to classical music.