One of the most important artists in my “art education”. A real storm embodying artistic resistance and critical power. We both found in the French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu a starting point from which to observe the world and especially the art world. But her discursive art projects are really unforgettable and mentioned Bourdieu in person in the forward of her book Museum Highlights: the writings of Andrea Fraser underline her originality and courage.
In 1989 at the Philadelphia Museum of Art with the performance of Museum Highlights: a Gallery talk in which Andrea Fraser created the character of Jane Castleton a teacher who delights in being a museum guide. By using the typical speech of the upper classes, the performer expressed the concept that distinction is culturally created and that the language used to describe the art field, the artworks and the artists does not provide an educational function but is rather used in a misleading way to perpetuate social and cultural differences. Indeed gestures and phrases of those who speak of culture instead of educating can have the power to alienate and exclude those not familiar with this language. So what is the role of the museums in the process of cultural formation? The figure of Jane Castleton was abandoned in 1990 when the artist decided to present herself with all the symbolic value attributed to her as an artist. Unforgettable for me was also the performance of Little Frank and his carp (2001) in which she visited the Guggenheim in Bilbao listening to an audio-guide and reacting in an erotic way to the voice of the guide and the internal architecture of the museum; showing with this that the visitor-tourist has a real passive and mechanical role and that container is more important than the contents. A real avant-garde in a poor and always ordinary world.
Little Frank and his carp
DVD, 6 minutes. Courtesy the artist
Andrea Fraser's exhibition view at Museum der Moderne, Salzburg on the occasion of her solo exhibition in 2015. Photo credit: Museum der Moderne, Salzburg. Courtesy the artist
Museum Highlights: A gallery Talk (1989)
live performance, Philadelphia Museum Of Art. Photo credit: Kelly & Massa Photography. Courtesy the artist
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