Piper, Transgressive Acts, 1993 (2)
not in the past to be found, but in the future to be constructed."
Since the 80's, Keith
Piper has made issue-based work in a range of media from painting and
sculpture to printing and photography. From the early 90's he has been
developing his practice in the area of digital arts and multimedia and
it is in this field that he is now one of Britains' foremost practitioners.
Piper explores the
various meanings and cultural positions for Black people in Britain today,
particularly the Black male. At a time when young Black men are disproportionately
present in the number of school exclusions and young offenders, Piper
examines issues of representation and explores the roots of prejudice
in post-colonial British society. He looks at the limited roles 'offered
to' or imposed upon Black men, currently as well as historically, particularly
in the fields of sport and science. Piper is keen to expose issues of
power and control, for example he draws our attention (as spectators)
to how we view, glorify and condemn our sporting heroes. As the voice
on the soundtrack of 'Another Arena' (1997) says: "We acknowledge
your genius but struggle with the idea that it could be a genius of discipline."
By using digital media,
Piper is able to draw upon, combine and reconfigure a whole range of sources,
from colonial history and ethnographic archives, to recent popular music
and media clips. The results are multilayered pieces which highlight the
constructed nature of history, identity and belief. In his installation
work, he places the computer pieces within a situation - inside the ropes
of a boxing ring; on the shelves of a museum archive - providing a context
for these constructed meanings.
of images and sounds can be ambiguous and allow for a number of responses
or interpretations by the viewer but at the same time, Piper often employs
an editorial voice in the form of text or voice-over, which directly challenges
our assumptions or complacency.
is a piece which looks at a number of key Black figures in the history
of boxing to see how they have conformed to or transgressed their defined
positions. In each case the individual has been transformed into an archetypal
figure whose mythical status has been created or destroyed in and by the
"By evoking the
personas of various boxing icons, Piper exposes the roped-off canvas square
as a site of political struggle where identities and visibilities are
contested." Rohini Malik
Piper, Transgressive Acts, 1993 (3)
ALL IN THE GAME...
Keith Piper uses multimedia
to construct complex images or audiovisual works, which examine and question
what it means to be Black and British.
- Do you see yourself
and your experiences reflected in any contemporary art or culture? Who
do you identify with? What do you aspire to? Are there places where
you feel you don't belong?... Using
cut and past techniques could you 'put yourself in the picture' - include
yourself in an image (photograph or painting) of a place or situation
where you would like to be. You could include several different versions
Piper with Derek Richards, Seven Stories from Permanent Revolution on
'Relocating The Remains' CD-Rom, 1997 (4)
- What would you
make, inspired by this artist's work?
- If your life had
a soundtrack, what would it be like?
The images on this
page are taken from the monograph and CD-Rom 'Relocating the Remains',
published by inIVA. In this CD Piper has 'remixed' and re-created much
of his older work into this new digital format. You
can see more of Piper's work this website: