In conjunction with the Hammer Museum’s presentation of Adrian Piper: Concepts and Intuitions, 1965-2016, ICA LA is presenting Piper’s What It’s Like, What It Is #3 (1991), a large-scale mixed-media installation addressing racist stereotypes.
Consisting of a gleaming white amphitheater with a nine-foot-tall column at its center and reflective mirrors surrounding its upper periphery, the installation’s sleek geometry recalls a work of Minimalist sculpture. Embedded within the column are four video screens depicting simultaneous views of an African American man; he speaks directly to the audience, negating a list of offensive racial stereotypes: “I’m not dirty, I’m not horny, I’m not selfish, I’m not evil …” while in the background, The Commodores sing of flying “far away from here, where my mind can be fresh and clear …”
Piper’s groundbreaking, transformative work has profoundly shaped the form and content of Conceptual art since the 1960s, exerting an incalculable influence on artists working today. Her investigations into the political, social, and spiritual potential of Conceptual art frequently address gender, race, and xenophobia through incisive humor and wit, and draw on her long-standing involvement with philosophy and yoga.