Performance artist Andrea Fraser began the fall season of the School of Art Lecture Series. The lecture became an artistic venue itself, with Fraser slipping in and out of various roles. She spoke broadly about her entire body of work, including one of her most famous pieces, Museum Highlights (1989), a performance where she posed as a museum tour guide offering fake museum tours, focusing on common objects other than the artwork.
Likewise, Fraser spent time touching on her later works, which solidified her standing as an avant-garde artist. For example, her 2002 video performance Untitled questioned the relationship between a buyer, the artist, and a piece of artwork as Fraser turned an act of arranged sex into the artwork itself. Her performance was a commissioned act of prostitution, recorded in a hotel room as a silent film with one stationary camera angle. It raises questions about where the line should be drawn between pornography and art, and about a female’s role in her artwork.
Fraser’s artwork has been classified as “art in context,” as well as “institutional critique,” the latter of which is a questioning of the physical means and methods that surround and support artwork. And yet, many of her pieces maintain a level of satire. A video piece entitled Little Frank and his Carp (2001) is a reaction piece to the audio tour of the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain. In this performance, Fraser begins to lift up her dress, exposing her rear, as she rubs one of the walls of the Guggenheim’s grand entrance (as was suggested in the audio tour). Official Welcome (2001), a piece that is (to Fraser’s dislike) posted on YouTube, mimics and combines the speeches given at an artists’ reception of an award. In this speech, she identifies herself as not being a person, rather an object in an artwork — an idea that provides insight to her work on a broader scale. The performance climaxes with Fraser stripping off all her clothing and parading around the podium, and it ends with her crying for the sake of her artistic career.
Time and time again, Fraser’s work pushes the envelope. Through performance, video, and installation, she continuously questions the origins and support surrounding her work.
Schedule of lectures:
Jennifer and Kevin McCoy. Kresge Theatre. Tuesday, Sept. 25. 5 p.m. Artists who work in sculpture and video that question the structure of thoughts and the influences from certain media.
Mona Hatoum. McConomy Auditorium. Friday, Sept. 28. 7 p.m. Mixed-media artist who blends political overtones with a level of poetic expression.
Martin Kersels. Kresge Theatre. Tuesday, Oct. 2. 5 p.m. Artist working in sculpture, audio, photography, and performance.
Nina Katchadourian. Kresge Theatre. Tuesday, Oct. 9. 5 p.m. Artist working in a broad range of media including photography, sculpture, video, and sound.
Rochelle Steiner. McConomy Auditorium. Tuesday, Oct. 30. 5 p.m. Curator who has organized numerous public art projects as well as the exhibits of many acclaimed and rising artists.
Rachel Whiteread. Carnegie Lecture Hall, Carnegie Museum of Art. Tuesday, Nov. 6. 6 p.m. Artist who creates large-scale sculptures by casting commonplace objects and relating their presence to the surrounding spaces.
Ken Rinaldo. Kresge Theatre. Tuesday, Nov. 13. 5 p.m. Artist who creates interactive installations through the use of robotics and other mechanical processes to play on the differences between organic and inorganic creations.
Osman Khan. Kresge Theatre. Tuesday, Nov. 20. 5 p.m. Artist and Carnegie Mellon professor who uses technology in the creation of site-specific artworks and interactive installations that question the viewer’s understanding of identity and communication.
Trenton Doyle Hancock. Kresge Theatre. Tuesday, Dec. 4. 5 p.m. Artist who uses painting, printmaking, drawing, collage, and sculpture to create narrative works of art that illustrate a battle of good versus evil.