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Catalysis III (1970)

Adrian Piper

Adrian Piper’s performances from her Catalysis series (1970–71) are among the classics with regard to artistic interventions into daily life. Piper’s provocations and direct confrontations with the public took place in museums, department stores, buses and other public arenas. The series is based on a number of disruptive activities, predicated on the presence of the artist and designed to challenge behavioural norms within society as people are confronted with various forms of discrepancy. Piper understood herself to be a ‘catalytic agent’ within the public sphere, causing change but not changing herself. She would get onto a full subway car during rush hour wearing dirty, bad-smelling clothes, or walk on the street or sit on the bus with a towel stuffed into her mouth, or go into Macy’s department store wearing clothes painted in white while carrying a sign saying ‘Wet Paint’.

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