Wednesday, December 9, 2015 at 7:30pm
An Evening with Andrea Fraser
155 Freeman Street, Brooklyn
Light Industry presents a wide-ranging selection of videos by artist and writer Andrea Fraser, who has developed a distinctive body of work critiquing art institutions and the political dynamics that suffuse them, often manifested as performances of lacerating intelligence, sly wit, and precise execution. These pieces have long employed film, video, and other media, both to document their site-specific occurrences and to extend their message beyond the gallery walls. While the circulation of Fraser’s essays and transcriptions of her performances have cemented her reputation as a key practitioner of institutional critique (a term, in fact, she helped coin), the moving-image records convey aspects of her work that the printed page cannot. Here, we witness Fraser as a consummate actor, evincing a formidable talent for self-reinvention as she variously assumes the roles of visiting artist, docent, art dealer, museum-goer, or television news reporter for each piece; we can observe the unscripted reactions of her spectators, who are often taken aback by Fraser’s subtle shifts in tone and message, which continuously undermine the way that representatives of the art world are normally called upon to address a public; and we see the spaces of art institutions, documented in the course of Fraser’s actions in ways that the organizations themselves would never have chosen. Though art is frequently the subject of Fraser’s work, its implications extend far outside museums and galleries. She focuses on these sites not to simply illuminate their exceptional qualities, but rather to reveal them as emblematic of the way power operates in society at large. Watching her relentless inquiry into the forces that shape cultural value, we come to better know its costs.
Hello! Welcome to Tate Modern!
2007, 3-5 mins per sequence
Part of the experience of visiting a museum is being exposed to a broad range of stimuli, including not only the art on display but also the audio, visual, and textual material generated by museums for education and publicity. That experience can become overwhelming as the multiple voices of artists, curators, educators, and marketers jostle for viewers’ attention. Hello! Welcome to Tate Modern attempts to capture that experience with an audiovisual collage composed of sounds and images from a museum’s multimedia tour. Files created to be viewed individually on hand-held devices appear projected in an increasingly rapid and random sequence. The result is a montage of twentieth-century art, history and popular culture that builds into a dissonant cacophony before diminishing and cycling through another, uniquely generated sequence.
Welcome to the Wadsworth: A Museum Tour
1991, 26 mins
Welcome to the Wadsworth is a tour of the oldest "continuously operating" art museum in the United States, the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, Connecticut. Rather than lead visitors through the museum, the artist-tour-guide leads them around it, directing their attention to the museum’s relationship with Hartford’s colonial past and the legacies of that history for the city’s present. How does a museum established to represent the relatively homogeneous culture of a pre-industrial community function in an urban context fractured by racial, ethnic and economic divisions? Beginning her tour as an outsider, the artist gradually develops her identification with Hartford’s "first families" who founded and continue to support the museum, articulating the "values and dreams" that contributed to making Connecticut one of the most economically and racially segregated states in the United States.
Reporting from São Paulo, I'm from the United States
1998, 24 mins
Produced for the North American section of the 24th Bienal de São Paulo, Reporting from São Paulo, I'm from the United States takes the form of television news reports about the exhibition. Interviews and commentary recorded on location were edited into a series of five short broadcasts. Working with a crew from TV Cultura, a nationally broadcast cultural station supported by a private, non-profit foundation, Reporting from São Paulo was originally planned to be broadcast nationally in the context of a cultural magazine program, as well as presented in the exhibition itself. Unfortunately, due to national presidential elections, local floods, a global economic crisis, and other events coinciding with the opening of the Bienal, the work was neither broadcast nor exhibited during the Bienal. These events, however, provide the context in which the work examines the 24th Bienal’s theme of anthropophagy, as well as the relationship between international biennial exhibitions, neocolonialism, and economic globalization.
Little Frank and His Carp
2001, 6 mins
Shot with hidden cameras in the Guggenheim Bilbao, Little Frank and His Carp documents an unauthorized intervention in the celebrated Frank Gehry museum that was staged for the purpose of recording. A tourist is seen entering the museum and renting an audio guide, which is heard as a voice-over. She furrows her brow as the guide admits that "modern art is demanding, complicated, bewildering," then smiles with relief when told that "the museum tries to make you feel at home, so you can relax and absorb what you see more easily." She becomes pensive when the guide calls her attention to the museum’s "powerfully sensual" curves, whose "direct appeal has nothing to do with age or class or education." When she is finally invited to stroke the museum walls, she seems to get carried away. When she pulls up her dress and starts rubbing up against a column, no one moves to intervene. After all, she is only doing what the audio guide tells her to do. Little Frank and His Carp was inspired by the audio guide as a particularly outrageous example of the way corporatized museums like the Guggenheim are packaging artistic transgression and transcendence, subversion and sensuality and linking them to the "freedoms" promised by neoliberal policies.
ORCHARD Document: May I Help You?
Andrea Fraser and Jeff Preiss, 1991/2005/2006, 18 mins
A collaboration between Fraser and filmmaker Jeff Preiss, ORCHARD Document: May I Help You? was produced on the heels of Fraser’s performance of May I Help You? at Orchard Gallery for the opening exhibition, which was curated in part to resonate with the performance. Like Preiss, Fraser was a founder of Orchard, a cooperative gallery project that existed from 2005-2008, bringing her performance as a gallery staffer closer to reality. In contrast to the 1991 video of the performance, which was performed directly to the camera, ORCHARD Document: May I Help You? is a densely edited montage that shows Fraser’s interaction with alternating gallery visitors, who change in almost every shot. The precision of Fraser’s delivery allowed Preiss to sync footage of a half-dozen different performances to a single audio track.
The above descriptions of individual works were written by Fraser herself for the exhibition catalog Andrea Fraser, published by the Museum der Moderne Salzburg, 2015.
Followed by a conversation with Fraser and Preiss.
Tickets - $8, available at door.
Please note: seating is limited. First-come, first-served. Box office opens at 7pm.