Andrea Fraser

1965 | Billings, Montana, United States

American performance artist and essayist.

Andrea Fraser studied at the New York School of Visual Arts and at New York University. She became known in the 1980s for performance pieces presented in a humorous and often satirical tone, and aimed at questioning the position of the artist within the institutional context of the art world. Her first performances stood at the intersection of a specific tradition of feminist performance and of the “institutional critique” informed by the ideas of Pierre Bourdieu – who wrote the foreword to the artist’s collection of theoretical writings, Museum Highlights (2005) – and explored history and function of museums, which she perceived as spaces of latent social conflict. In Museum Highlights: A Gallery Talk, she posed as Jane Castleton, a young volunteering lecturer, who leads a tour through the Philadelphia Museum of Art, describing its every detail in overly emphatic terms, and in doing so paints a picture of the social and political history of museums.

Fifteen years later, in a new filmed performance, Little Frank and His Carp (2001), she plays a visitor reacting exaggeratedly to the audio tour’s description of Frank Gehry’s architecture, even simulating sexual pleasure in the museum’s entrance hall. The performance revealed the underlying ideology of a place of consumption and power masquerading as an artistic institution. Andrea Fraser has also used this method of “institutional critique” in installations and photographs, most notably at the Berkeley Art Museum (1992), Kunstverein Munich (1993), Austrian Pavilion of the Venice Biennale (1993), and Whitney Museum Biennale (1993). She has also written essays and scripts for her performances, regularly takes part in debates and symposiums, and teaches at the University of California (Los Angeles).

Claire Bernardi

Translated from French by Lucy Pons.

From the Dictionnaire universel des créatrices
© 2013 Des femmes – Antoinette Fouque
© Archives of Women Artists, Research and Exhibitions
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