Andrea Fraser b. 1965
Official Welcome (Hamburger Kunstverein) (2003)
The video shows Fraser stripping while quoting from speeches given by critics, collectors, curators, politicians, and artists at openings, awards ceremonies, and other art events. She recites famous artists ranging from Mel Brooks and Thomas Hirschhorn to Shirin Neshat, Ross Bleckner, Francesco Clemente, Vanessa Beecroft, Damien Hirst, Chris Ofili, Tracey Emin, and Kara Walker. This version filmed here took place at the Kunstverein in Hamburg at the opening of Fraser's mid-career retrospective on September 9, 2003.
On returning home to Berlin from Hamburg, where I had seen Andrea Fraser's midcareer retrospective, I was besieged with questions about the artist's new "sex work," a videotaped performance for which she was "commissioned" to have sex with a collector. "Did you like it?" I was repeatedly asked, and I found, even to my own surprise, that I had to answer yes, I liked it very much. This work, called Untitled, is clearly in keeping with a risk-laden artistic investigation that began in 2001 with two pieces: Kunst muss hangen (Art Must Hang), Fraser's re-creation of an impromptu 1995 speech by Martin Kippenberger, and Official Welcome, a performance that had been criticized for its "exhibitionism," since Fraser strips in one part. With Kunst muss hangen, Fraser had announced a new phase in her methods of what I would call "incorporating appropriation," performances in which the line between "being" and "acting," between authenticity and imitation, is no longer drawn. Fraser convincingly mutates into Kippenberger, attempting to "become" hint in all his drunken provocations and sweeping gestures. Similarly, in Official Welcome, which originally took place in a private home in New York and was revised, restaged, and documented on video for its presentation in Hamburg, Fraser moves among curatorial, critical, and artistic styles of rhetoric. It is a testament to Fraser's impersonating capacity that this carefully scripted role-playing doesn't veer into irony. Rather, one has the impression that she lives and breathes the modes of speech she appropriates.
ArtForum, Dec, 2003 by Isabelle Graw