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Artist and philosopher Adrian Piper’s groundbreaking and transformative work has profoundly re-shaped our understanding of art practice today and its relationship with social and political realities. Through her practice, Piper uncompromisingly— with humor and wit—addresses gender, race, xenophobia, and, more recently, social engagement and self-transcendence.
Thinking and dancing are synergistic in Piper’s world. Adrian Moves to Berlin (2007) documents her hour-long performance at Alexanderplatz in Berlin. In the video, she dances to selected Berlin house music with continuous improvised movements. According to Piper, the work is dedicated to the workers from former East Berlin, the past legacy of a common ideal, and the city of reunification, “in which two formerly segregated societies are finding intelligent ways to come together. In Berlin, dance spaces have been one of those ways since the Fall of the Wall in 1989.” This is a solitary dance to celebrate not only the artist’s personal journey, but many different beings. When a person is faced with the anomalousness of another being (be it ideological systems, political beliefs, animals, nonhuman, or other intelligence), the experience of dance—one of the most profound and ancient ways of communication—may be able to realign our empirical conceptions and the judgements that accompany them. The invitation here is not to impose one way of thinking or doing, but to foreground the connections between our intellectual and sensual natures.
Piper’s joy, energy and optimism are infectious. Can we dance, together?