Piper began The Mythic Being in 1973, merging a male alter ego (the Mythic Being) with episodes from her own personal history. The project, which includes photographs, drawings, and performances, first took shape in a series of seventeen newspaper advertisements in New York’s Village Voice. In each advertisement the artist appears in drag accompanied by a “thought bubble” filled with text from a journal entry she wrote as a teenager. These adolescent texts became the artist’s personal mantras: during the month in which an ad appeared, Piper would repeat the text over and over, to “reexperience it, examine, and analyze it,” she has said. The combination of public revelation and private contemplation was an exorcism of sorts, the artist has explained. “The experience of the Mythic Being thus becomes part of the public history and is no longer a part of my own.”
Gallery label from Contemporary Art from the Collection, June 30, 2010–September 12, 2011.