Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Philosophy and Conceptual Art

There is much that I know I don't know. But I often am aware, roughly, of what it is that I don't know. So I was thrilled today to learn something new about someone I should have known more about.

One of my students has been talking to me about women artists, and in particular about feminist conceptual art. Today she was teaching me about the conceptual artist Adrian Piper, and I was so curious because this seems like an unusual name, and I've read work by the ethicist Adrian Piper. And guess what? Same person!
This realization is more surprising because I don't expect academics to have time in their lives to develop other careers, and I don't expect to see an analytic philosopher (that is, someone not primarily writing aesthetics) be a figure in the artworld.

Adrian Piper studied with John Rawls at Harvard, and had a number of teaching posts after that. She was the first African-American woman in philosophy to be tenured, and left a teaching post at Wellesley in 2008. She's written much on Kant, on ethics, on history of philosophy more broadly, and on discrimination and identity. Her artistic career as a conceptual artist continues and seems to draw on some of the same themes as her philosophical work--the construction of personal and social identities and selfhood--but through a modality very different from analytic argumentation!

Here is an interesting interview with Piper from 2001.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I had not heard of her, but will definitely be checking her out!