In the 1970s the African-American artist Adrian Piper donned an Afro wig and a fake mustache and prowled the streets in the guise of the Mythic Being, a performance-art version of a stereotype of the black male as a threatening mugger.She was turning fear into farce, punching a hole into such stereotypes while acknowledging their power.
Mythic Being Still 6 1973
Mythic Being Still 10 1973
Mythic Being: Getting Back No. 3 1975
In 1973, Adrian Piper created an alter-ego, the Mythic Being, who became the basis of a pioneering series of performances and photo-based works. Piper—a light-skinned woman of mixed racial heritage—transformed herself into the Mythic Being by donning an Afro wig, sunglasses and mustache and adopting behavior conventionally identified as masculine. In the process, she transformed the conceptual art practices common in the period, infusing them with strong personal and political content. This exhibition gathers together works from all facets of the Mythic Being project, including major work from the Smart Museum’s collection and selections from the Adrian Piper Research Archive, some of which document private performances of the Mythic Being never before publicly presented.