The Seven Year Disappear Virtual Lobby Display

Photos of Cynthia Nixon as Miriam in The Seven Year Disappear


Miriam (b. 1959)
Photography on Canvas

One of Miriam’s lesser known pieces, Disguise explores the masks we wear throughout our lives. Miriam recreates moments from her past work as well as from her colleague’s past work to discover how time and labels change a person’s identity.


Hear more about this piece in our audio guide below!


MIRIAM (b. 1959)

Rejecting the limits of labels, Miriam is best known as an interdisciplinary, conceptual and performance artist whose work interrogates our fundamental understandings of time, space and reality. Her esteemed body of work pushes the boundaries of what art can be and has helped define post-postmodernism. Born an only child to working class parents in Peoria, Illinois, she left home at the age of 15. Hiding on cross country freight trains, she arrived in New York City and studied at Cooper Union before being discovered by faculty as an unenrolled student. At this time she began her first notable works, commonly referred to as Peoria Series (Pee-oria, Me-oria and Pain-Aria, 1976-77). During this time, trying out an array of aliases, she befriended, collaborated with and/or fell under the unofficial tutelages of Bruce Nauman, Karen Finley, Tehching Hsieh, Laurie Anderson, Joseph Beuys, Mike Kelley and Adrian Piper, amongst others. Refusing the notion of ‘media’ altogether, she made I Ate Eight (1978), X, X, Oh and X Again (1978-80), 1979-1979 (1979) and Take Me for Granted and I’ll Take You for Cary Grant (1980). 

By 1980 she began performing and creating new work in Europe, the Middle East and the former Soviet Union. Her 1982 piece Body / Breast / Bone (To Zagreb with Love from “An American”) was included in the 1983 Whitney Biennial, marking the start of her longstanding affiliation with the Whitney Museum of American Art.

Her pieces made about, for and/or with her son Naphtali constitute some of her best known work, including Hush Little Baby Don’t You Die (1986), OOZ (1991), The Playground Ground (1991), Decade Child (1996), Bar Mitzvah ’99 (1999), PUBERTY SUCKS, MOM and MOM SUCKS, PUBERTY (2001-02), The Shark Inside (2005) and What to Do When Your Boy Becomes a Man and Other Delusions (2007).

Her durational pieces include Who Me? (1993), wherein she lived inside a mirrored cube for 90 days, Bottom Up Top Down I (2006), a ten-month hike from Alaska to California, and 5000 Ways, 5000 Days, an in-progress piece taking place over 13 years, eight months, two weeks and one day, upon which time we will find out why, and the ways. Her upcoming piece, The Seven Year Disappear, was announced at a donor event at MoMA in 2009 and its completion will be presented as part of their 2016 programming.

Her work has been developed and/or presented over all seven continents.