Talk with Vid Simoniti
Being Alone with the Art of Adrian Piper
12 April 2024, H 19
vid simoniti

If you were walking down Essex Street in New York, early one morning in 1972, you might have bumped into a young woman, reciting what would have sounded like a telephone conversation. This was Adrian Piper, performing the ‘Philip Zohn Catalysis’: she recorded her side of the phone call with her friend, and then performed it in various locations. In this talk, I will look at an important theme in Adrian Piper’s art: the act of being alone with your thoughts. As we will see, solipsism—the radical philosophical idea that only the subject exists—is a problem that can be traced from Piper’s early work, into some of her most recent series, such as “Everything will be taken away.” While Piper is an artist best known for her anti-racist stance, I will here explore how her art and philosophy also have much to say about some of the fundamental problems of the human condition: being alone, being with others, and being mortal.



Vid Simoniti is the author of Artists Remake the World (Yale, 2023), which investigates the role of contemporary art in democratic politics in the twenty-first century. He is Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Liverpool, and has written on topics including the relationship between art and climate change, art and technology, and philosophical aesthetics. As BBC New Generation Thinker 2021, he often appears on BBC Radio programmes, commenting on art and culture. Prior to his position at Liverpool, he was the Jeffrey Rubinoff Fellow at the University of Cambridge. He tweets at @vidsimoniti