My Calling Card #1 and #2
- My Calling (Card) # 1 (for Dinners and Cocktail Parties) and My Calling Card #2, were a series of performances, 1986-1990
- How does Piper explore identity through this series?
Piper deals with identity in this series of performances because she makes a statement about who she is, and what she finds socially acceptable. She is proud of the fact she is both Black and White and could no longer tolerate racist remarks. In Calling Card #1, she explores identity not only with how she appears to others, but what others may not know about her actual heritage. Piper also explores social stereotypes of women in Calling Card #2. There is an negative assumption of a woman’s intentions if she is sitting alone at a bar. She defies social boundaries by handing out the second group of calling cards in order to point out that she is an independent woman who should be allowed to be alone without trying to get “picked up.” (Piper, 1996)
- Explanation of My Calling Card
Calling Card #1 was performance piece in which Piper handed these cards to people who made racist remarks. It was a way to call someone out for being racist and identify herself as Black within a social situation. At first glance, Piper may appear to just be white, and often overheard racist remarks, since people did not realize she was Black. She struggled with if she should ignore the comments, stand up for herself and make a scene, and found the solution in these cards.
In Calling Card #2, Piper also hands out similar cards but ones that depict her being unaccompanied at a bar. She believed that as a woman, she should be allowed to go out and not have to be with another person, especially a man. These cards stated that she was alone, is not there to be picked up, and wants the receiver to respect her privacy (Piper, 1996).
“Dear Friend, / I am black. / I am sure you did not realize this when you made/laughed at/agreed with that racist remark...”
“Dear Friend, / I am not here to pick anyone up, or to be picked up. I and here alone because I want to be here, ALONE…”
- Concept and Theoretical Aspects
This series is about Piper’s identity as a Black and White woman in a social situation. She wants to break social norms and stereotypes. She tries to call out inappropriate comments and prejudgments people have about her because of who she is. The receiver of a card must contemplate what they said to her and how they view different types or groups of people. My Calling Card demonstrates the constructive / edifying nature of Piper’s work. As for a viewer who saw this performance take place, or heard about it after the fact, we must also think about how we view different groups of people, and deal with issues of our own identities. (Piper, 1996)
Text is used to convey the main message of these performances. Her various performances actually are the art (Piper, 1996). She uses brown and white sheets of paper that are 2 x 31/2 inches. The black font is clear easy to read. The message is displayed in the format of a letter addressed “Dear Friend.” Piper would hand out these cards to either people who made a racist remark and did not realize she was black, or to people who did not respect her privacy.