This is my antique drafting table from around 1930. It has a cast iron adjustable tripod base and a quarter-sawn oak tabletop. Made by Dietzgen it’s the best-designed drafting table I have ever seen. It’s very stable, and the top can be easily adjusted for height and angle, depending on the kind of drawing you’re doing. I bought a similar one in 1963, when I was in high school, with the money I’d earned modelling. I used that one for 11 years. I gave it to Rosemary Mayer (Vito Acconci’s ex-wife) in 1974, to store for me when I moved from my 2,000 square foot loft on Hester Street in Manhattan into a tiny apartment in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
After several more moves, I landed in a larger apartment in Ann Arbor, Michigan in 1979, and asked her to return it, but she declined. I continued to search for one like it in antique shops, at flea markets and online but in vain. Then in 2010 I found this table, the exact same model, on the US eBay website. By that time I was living in Berlin, so I couldn’t bid for it. So I asked my agent in the US, Marianne Baer, if she would bid for me. Unlike me, Marianne knows a lot about eBay and how to bid skillfully. I would never have got it without her. Coordinating crating and shipping from the seller was very complicated and expensive, but Marianne did that, too, during the same week she had to hand in the final draft of her book to her publisher. The top and the base had to be packed separately, and were delivered a nerve-wracking week apart. After assembling it, I immediately cleaned the top with linseed oil. Now it’s so beautiful I can’t bear to use it. I just like to look at it.
Adrian Piper is an artist who lives and works in Berlin. She was awarded the Golden Lion for best artist in All the World’s Futures at the current 56th Venice Biennale. Her retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art, New York is scheduled for 2018.
First published in Issue 20