Adrian Piper What Will Become of Me 1985, ongoing

  • Not on view

In the 1980s Piper’s interests in systemic oppression, racism, and social justice took a contemplative and self-referential direction. What Will Become of Me consists of twelve honey containers filled with the artist’s hair and two smaller jars holding bits and pieces of fingernails and dried skin, arranged as reliquaries on a wooden shelf. Completing the work are two typewritten documents that provide context for these artifacts: one a recountal of personal trauma, and the other a statement of intent on what becomes of the work upon the death of the artist.

Gallery label from 2020
Additional text

What Will Become of Me? is a work in progress that will be completed upon the artist’s death. Since 1985, Piper has filled honey jars with her hair and fingernails whenever she cuts them. The last container to be added will hold her cremated remains. The jars are displayed on a shelf flanked by two documents: One is a personal account of the artist’s experiences in 1985 when she started the project, and the other is a notarized statement in which Piper declares her intention to donate this work to The Museum of Modern Art. As both an African American and a woman—two groups that have traditionally been marginalized in the history of art—she is literally inserting herself into the Museum’s collection.

Framed text, glass jars, shelf, hair, fingernails, and skin
Dimensions variable
Gift of Gwen and Peter Norton
Object number
© 2024 Adrian Piper
Painting and Sculpture

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