Sunday, November 22, 2009

My Calling (Card); 1986

My Calling (Card) was completed in 1986. There were two pieces of art in this series, both were offset lithographs. My Calling (Card) #1 was on brown paper and My Calling Card #2 was on white paper. Both of these works were published by Angry Art. The dimensions of the cards were h. 2 x w. 3 ½” (5.1 x 8.9 cm).

My Calling (Card) was an interactive work that Piper performed unannounced where ever she was that day from 1986 to 1990. ("Wikipedia") Piper uses “a passive-aggressive approach to showcase how racism and sexism are intrinsically harmful” ("African American Art"). Piper is a very light-skinned African American, so many people think that she is white. She is very good at “acting white” as well. The brown card in the series is used to directly confront anyone who uses an racist remark while she is present. She would do this anywhere even at dinners and cock-tail parties. When she hears the remark she hands them the card and this usually makes them very uncomfortable. The white card is used on men, it tells them that she is available simply because she is unaccompanied. She uses these cards in these situations. Since this work has been made she display these cards in exhibits for people to take and use. Her main focus with these cards is that “the focus in these mass-produced objects is not on craft, but on the ideas behind their production” ("African American Art"). Piper “recounts the extreme discomfort she experienced in various other ways of handling the recognition/non-recognition of her blackness. The indexical present instantiated by her work seemed to act as a catalyst for social mindfulness, awareness of the here-and-now of interpersonal relations” (Steinmetz).

The Calling (Cards) was a very interesting piece. I like how she continues this work in her everyday life. This one piece of artwork that will never die because she encourages others to use this work over and over again. I have noticed that a lot of her work is based on the idea that is behind her paintings and drawings. With this work, the idea is to get people that are racist when there are no other black people around. She can be in a group and they make a racial comment and then she presents her card to them. This particular piece reminds me of a work done by Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Passport, 1991. His idea is that anyone can come into the gallery and take a piece of paper off of the stack of papers. They can do with the paper whatever they want. Piper and Gonzalez-Torres wants the audience to keep these work alive. They want the audience to use each work the way in which they see fit.


"Adrian Piper." Wikipedia. 22 11 2009, Web. 18 Nov 2009. .

"Adrian Piper." African American Art. 2006. Indiana University Art Museum , Web. 18 Nov 2009. .

Steinmetz, Julia. “The Power of Now: Adrian Piper’s Indexical Present.” Art21. 05/07/2009. Art21, Web. 18 Nov 2009.


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  2. Wonderful piece of information on my calling card. thanks