The 16 artists in Less Than One each enact a self that functions as a dynamic ecosystem rather than a unitary form. While it has become almost common contemporary practice to disavow artistic selfhood, often this is enacted either at the level of the individual artwork or through the exhibition. Contemporary art is full of forms of disruption against the suturing gesture of the solo exhibition or its related practice of the retrospective. While many of the artists in the exhibition disrupt these historic forms, they also frequently investigate the wider set of practices that serve to buttress the sense of a whole, complete artistic self. These sets of related, often interpretive practices include—to name a few—artist talks, interviews, and artist writings. They are often seen as peripheral to an artist’s practice, but are fundamental to understanding several of the artists in Less Than One. For the artists in the exhibition, it is frequently through this set of interpretive practices, more particularly this hermeneutics of the self, which is fundamentally called into question. At issue is the artists’ responses when they are asked to perform a self—that is, how they relate to those terms of engagement—and how openly they risk the possibility of being incomprehensible in that engagement.
Renée Green’s practice is instructive in this regard as her presentation of artistic identity involves a constant shape-shifting as a mode of self-stylization. Her process finds kinship with those artists that she calls “combination people,” who purposefully enact several roles of artistic being simultaneously. In Green’s case this includes her dual role of writer and artist, and her performative establishment of Free Agent Media, a “dream company” that primarily serves as an outlet for aspects of her wide-ranging output. Her refusal to be positioned in the culturally accepted terms of engagement offered to her are also foregrounded in her writing, often pointedly in essays such as “I Won’t Play Other to Your Same” (1990). More recently, as part of Less Than One, the Walker hosted a public program wherein her full range was on display. As with other artists in the exhibition, instead of giving a straightforward artist talk, she performed several parts: reading from her book Other Planes of There (2014), screening her film Begin Again, Begin Again (2015), and engaging in a discussion. The film she screened and various speaking roles she took during the program served as a condensation of her concerns, collapsing multiple time frames and identities. Frequently, it was not clear if the voice doing the speaking belong to her; her brother Derrick Green, who narrates the film; or the architect Rudolph Schindler, whose nomadic presence serves as the intellectual anchor of Begin Again, Begin Again. In this layering of time and voice, Green’s work consistently occupies the very edge of intelligibility.
Another artist in the exhibition, Lutz Bacher, is perhaps the most direct in her engagement of interpretative practices of selfhood. Bacher—whose artistic name is a pseudonym and whose real name is unknown—strategically employs distancing practices to call attention to these fabrications of the self. Bacher’s performative self finds a sustained engagement through both the interview and the related bureaucratic practice of the questionnaire, examples of both of which appear in the exhibition. The artist interview is a particularly interesting example in that through the interview artists are asked to perform—often through the reconstructive narrative of memory—elaborations on their work and history through autobiography. The Lee Harvey Oswald Interview (1976) is an enigmatic approach to this process: the work is a collage of photo documentation and text that presents Bacher’s response to being invited to publish an interview that was compiled in a book of artist interviews. Instead of sending in an interview of the “real” Bacher, she sent in an interview with herself as both interviewer and interviewee discussing the subject of Lee Harvey Oswald. The work is an exploration of one of the more colorful conspiracy theories of the John F. Kennedy assassination, which posits an Oswaldian döppelganger who was involved in the shooting. Posted across the work are photographs of various Oswalds from different times and places; some photographs are documentation in a governmental sense, some are documentation in a personal sense. Evidence of this false Oswald is purportedly provided through the photographs. Instead of providing expositive information generally offered up in interview format, however, the answers to various questions in the “interview” foreground both a lack of understanding and the impossibility of useful memory. The false interview simultaneously calls attention to the potential of two Oswalds as well as Bacher’s use of him as a surrogate for herself. For instance, part of the text reads:
A: They could all be fakes and I wouldn’t know the difference […].
Q: Do you honestly believe that someone else was substituted?
A: It could be. That’s what I’m saying. I don’t know. All the pictures look sort of alike and sort of different.
Thus, for Bacher, a form that is generally meant to offer an aid to intelligibility—the interview—serves as a lens of opacity.
The work of Adrian Piper takes a different approach to identity, yet her engagement with questions of the self has been a consistent concern of her practice. Perhaps her best known work in this realm is her Mythic Being project, parts of which are on view in Less Than One. In Piper’s playing of this persona, she dons a pair of reflective sunglasses, an Afro wig, a moustache, and a cigar. The Mythic Being occupied Piper’s practice for a number of years, appearing as a public figure, in documentation, and in the advertisement section of the Village Voice. The Mythic Being is purposefully ambiguous in gender and race to highlight the performative aspects of both. The Mythic Being: I/You (Her) (1974) is explicit in this regard: the ten panel work shows the progressive transformation of Piper into the Mythic Being character, becoming more direct in her assertions but maintaining a purposefully ambiguity as to whether it is the viewer or her photographic companion that she addresses. Again, ambiguity is at the heart of the work and its political effect.
What is critical is that in performing as this other self she is effectively changed into that self during the performance. As she noted at the time, “I find myself getting involved in his mental framework.” “According to the artist, ‘A mythic being [is] a fictitious or abstract personality that is generally part of a story or folktale used to explain or sanctify social or legal institutions or natural phenomena.’” This “abstract personality” is not outside social coding as “her emphasis on the becoming of identity indicates that she understood identity as socially mandated and performative, as a set of preestablised behaviors that one was compelled to act out in order to claim and assume a new identification.” For Piper, the self only becomes possible in relation to a socially mandated, normative possibility. This is particularly evident if one looks towards another Adrian Piper—Adrian Piper the philosopher, writing as Adrian M.S. Piper [italics mine]—who published Two Conceptions of the Self. Piper’s Kantian framework of subjectivity is made evident in the essay through two key points: (1) “the Kantian conception of the self is social rather than individualistic” and (2) “the most essential feature of the self is its very disposition to render its experience rationally intelligible.” The two propositions are, of course, directly related to Piper as we always determine what is “rationally intelligible” by the norms given to us from culture. For Piper the self only appears before another, the rules are not made by it, and subjectivity is changed by that other. For Piper this relationship to an other offers the possibility for ethical action, an opportunity to interrupt the flow of the everyday by questioning socially mandated inconsistencies of selfhood as is explicitly presented in the Mythic Being work.
The artistic practices surveyed here only begin to approach the range of selves presented in the exhibition. The lines of propulsive selves can be seen across it: Paul Chan’s multiplicity of artistic roles, Charline von Heyl’s shape-shifting abstraction, Jasper Johns’ obsessional mark-making, and Dieter Roth’s material accretions, to name a few others. For the artists in Less Than One the self is not a lack as the term “less” implies, but rather a space for reimagining and an active site of becoming. One can feel in their equivocations a striving to encounter the world anew, ungoverned by the strictures of any ordering telos.
 Writings on the subject are scattered throughout the work of Michel Foucault, but can be found especially in his lectures. These include: Michel Foucault, “About the Beginning of the Hermeneutics of the Self,” Political Theory, Vol. 21, No. 2. (May, 1993), pp. 198-227 from lectures given at Dartmouth College in 1980, and Michel Foucault. The Hermeneutics of the Subject: Lectures at the Collège de France 1981-1982. (New York: Picador, 2005), passim.
 The analysis of such in Ervin Goffman, The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life (New York City:Anchor Press, 1959), serves as the other fulcrum to this essay.
 As Judith Butler writes, “I am not bound to established forms of subject formation or, indeed, to established conventions for relating to myself, but I am bound to the sociality of any of those possible relations. I may risk intelligibility and defy convention, but then I am acting within or on a socio-historical horizon, attempting to rupture or transform it” Judith Butler, Giving an Account of Onself (New York: Fordham University Press, 2005), 114. Butler elaborates on this claim multiple times throughout the book, often in direct relationship to Foucault. The core issue that is reiterated is that one can only publish (a Foucauldian term Butler uses) a self in language through the historically-bound options available to them. In attempting to do otherwise one risks incomprehension. But it is precisely this abstruseness that allows for the possibility of critique in Foucault that is of interest to Butler. Ibid., 131.
 Michel Foucault wrote about this as an “aesthetics of the self,” as a sort of self-stylization or self-crafiting in multiple places, but particularly in the later work on ancient sexuality and philosophy such as The Care of the Self. (New York: Vintage, 1988) passim.
 Combination people for Green include the writer-philosopher-artist Adrian Piper, who is also in the exhibition and is discussed below. Renée Green, Other Planes of There: Selected Writings (Durham: Duke University Press, 2014) 16.
 Ibid., 94.
 Ibid., 53.
 This also occurred on April 9, 2016.
 As Martin Herbert notes in a sentence that could equally apply to other artists in the show, “Structural absences scan as congruent with her practice the ‘work’ itself composed partly of art objects, partly of an enigmatic performative aspect; and all of this, in turn, a meditation on the self” Martin Herbert, “Lutz Bacher,” in Art Review, Summer 2015, 109-110.
 This practice extends to the recent exhibition-video-book Do you love me? (2002), Ibid., 109.
 Bacher’s In Memory of My Feelings is a series of stacked, openable drawers, each containing a t-shirt with a phrase from the questionnaire. It starts not without coincidence with the phrase “I am a person who” and moves into Freudian-tinged territory occupied by family concerns and desire: “Mother always was” and “What I wanted” for example. In the drive to make oneself known through this medical process, one’s speech is effectively performing, interpreting, and generating a self, concretized in a “field of documentation.” This term comes from Michel Foucault, The Birth of the Prison (New York: Vintage Books, 1995), 189.
 Butler is again useful here: “I come into being as a reflexive subject in the context of establishing a narrative account of myself when I am spoken to by someone and prompted to address myself to the one who addresses me” Judith Butler, Giving an Account of Onself (New York: Fordham University Press, 2005), 15.
 Around the time of the work, the writer Michael B. Eddowes released the alliterative Kruschev Killed Kennedy (1975), which suggests that the KGB sent an imposter Oswald back to the United States in his place after he traveled to the Soviet Union in 1959.
 Interestingly, the willful obstruction of language through its layering reads akin to the formal experimentation of Concrete Poetry.
 As when, for instance, two different photographs from two different times are shown of a left-handed and right-handed Oswald thereby “proving” the switch.
 It is worth noting that the use of a conspiracy theory is also relevant inasmuch as the process of generating such a theory relies on the ease at which one can use photographic “documentation” for fictive purposes.
 A project also begun in 1973.
 Bowles, John P. Adrian Piper: Race, Gender, and Embodiment (Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2011), 230.
 Smith, Cherise. Enacting Others: Politics of Identity in Eleanor Antin, Nikki S. Lee, Adrian Piper, and Anna Deavere Smith (Durham & London: Duke University Press, 2011), 48.
 Ibid., 48 and 64.
 The use of middle initials here does not seem to be arbitrary but perhaps denotes another self. This practice is not exclusive to Piper (see e.g., the dual names of writer, composer, and musician George [E.] Lewis). As with Lewis, the identification of different Pipers depends on the form of knowledge produced.
 This writing analyses the differences in understanding the self as posited by David Hume and Immanuel Kant. Adrian Piper, “Two Conceptions of the Self,” Philosophical Studies 48, 2 (September 1985), 173-197; reprinted in The Philosopher’s Annual VIII (1985), 222-246. Accessed from Adrian Piper Research Archive Foundation Berlin, June 2, 2016. http://www.adrianpiper.com/docs/Website2ConceptionsOfTheSelf (1984).pdf.
 As she would note clearly, “the Kantian conception of the self is the correct one.” Ibid., 18.
 Ibid., 15. Or as is noted elsewhere, “As a human being any identity I may assume seems to depend largely on my interaction with other human beings” Smith 58.
 Piper 21.
 Hence her consistent practice of placing the Mythic Being outside of the “art world” and into the “real world” of newspapers and streets.