Adrian Piper. Vanilla Nightmares #12. 1986

Adrian Piper Vanilla Nightmares #12 1986

  • Not on view

The Vanilla Nightmares works, drawn in charcoal on articles and advertisements in the New York Times, depict European-American fantasies and fears about African Americans in enigmatic, overpowering, or sexual images that interact with the newspaper’s images and words. In one, an article titled “Black Doctors Told to Screen Patients for Violent Feelings” is integrated into the figure of a black man who seems to be trapped in the drawing’s—and the newspaper’s—two-dimensional plane; in another the figure of an African or African-American man who has been integrated into a safari-themed fashion advertisement grasps the European-American model on the back of her neck and looks directly at the viewer. The drawings suggest the racial fears and biases of a culturally liberal publication, literally bringing them to the surface; they show, as Piper has written, “the subauthoritarian news that’s not fit to print.”

Publication excerpt from Adrian Piper: A Synthesis of Intuitions, 1965–2016, 2018
Charcoal on newspaper
23 1/2 x 13 1/2" (59.7 x 34.3 cm)
Gift of Gwen and Peter Norton
Object number
© 2019 Adrian Piper
Drawings and Prints

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