Adrian Piper’s Catalysis Performances


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Essay #: 064864
Total text length is 5,115 characters (approximately 3.5 pages).

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The beginning:
Adrian Piper’s Catalysis Performances
In 1970, performance artist Adrian Piper created a series of public performances she called Catalysis, in which she went out into the regular, everyday world of New York City and performed actions not usually seen in public. In 1972, feminist art historian and critic Lucy
interviewed her about the Catalysis series of works in order to better understand her motivation behind these performances.
In Piper’s interview with
, several themes and questions present themselves that seem to conflict with the images of Piper’s performances of Catalysis or the reactions she received from her “audience” (i.e., the public at large). For example, Piper describes a performance in which she inflated...
The end:
..... they were a commentary on the ways that people are socially-sanctioned to behave in the public arena, and that has everything to do with one’s identity as a human being. Because race and gender are two of the most obvious visible identities for human beings, they could not be ignored as part of the very political message(s) of these Catalysis performances.
Figure 1. Adrian Piper, Catalysis III, Performance, 1970.
Figure 2. Adrian Piper, Catalysis IV, Performance, 1970.
Figure 3. Adrian Piper, Catalysis IV, Performance, 1970.
, Lucy. “Catalysis: An Interview with Adrian Piper,” Artists, Critics, Contexts: Readings in and Around American Art Since 1945. Ed., Paul F.
. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson, 2002.