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Andrea Fraser (b. 1965)



Little Frank and His Carp (2001)
Official Welcome (Hamburger Kunstverein) (2003)


Andrea Fraser (born 1965, Billings, Montana) is a New York-based performance artist, mainly known for her work in the area of institutional critique. She is currently a member of the Art Department faculty at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Arguably Fraser's most famous performance, Museum Highlights (1989) involved Fraser posing as a Museum tour guide at the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 1989 under the pseudonym of Jane Castleton. During the performance, Fraser led a tour through the museum describing it in verbose and overly dramatic terms to her chagrined tour group. For example, in describing a common water fountain Fraser proclaims "a work of astonishing economy and monumentality ... it boldly contrasts with the severe and highly stylized productions of this form!" Upon entering the museum cafeteria: "This room represents the heyday of colonial art in Philadelphia on the eve of the Revolution, and must be regarded as one of the very finest of all American rooms."

In Kunst muss hängen (Art Must Hang) (Galerie Christian Nagel / Cologne, 2001) - featured in Make Your Own Life: Artists In & Out of Cologne - Fraser reenacted an impromptu 1995 speech by a drunk Martin Kippenberger, word-by-word, gesture-for-gesture.

For Official Welcome (2001) - commissioned by the MICA Foundation for a private reception - Fraser mimicked "the banal comments and effusive words of praise uttered by presenters and recipients during art-awards ceremonies. Midstream, assuming the persona of a troubled, postfeminist art star, Fraser strips down, [...] to a Gucci thong, bra and high-heel shoes, and says, I'm not a person today. I'm an object in an art work."

In her videotape performance Untitled (2003), Fraser recorded a hotel-room sexual encounter with a private collector, who had paid close to $20,000 to participate, "not for sex, according to the artist, but to make an artwork." Actually, according to Andrea Fraser, the amount that the collector had paid her has not been disclosed, and the "$20,000" figure is way off the mark. Only 5 copies of the 60-minute DVD were produced, 3 of which are in private collections, 1 being that of the collector with whom she had had the sexual encounter; he had pre-purchased the performance piece in which he was a vital participant.

Her videotape performance Little Frank and His Carp (2001) targets architectural dominance of modern gallery spaces. Using the original soundtrack of an acoustic guide at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, she "... writhes with pleasure as the recorded voice draws attention to the undulating curves and textured surfaces of the surrounding space" which she takes literally in an "erotic encounter".