Andrea Fraser.
Wolfgang Hahn Price 2013

April 21, 2013–Ju­ly, 21 2013

An­drea Fras­er leaves noth­ing to chance in her pre­cise­ly chore­o­graphed per­for­mances. The Amer­i­can artist, born in 1965 in Billings, Mon­ta­na, and win­n­er of this year’s Wolf­gang Hahn Prize, an­a­lyzes ex­is­ten­tial and so­cial is­sues pro­found­ly and of­ten wit­ti­ly, re­peat­ed­ly en­gag­ing crit­i­cal­ly with the art world and the peo­ple in­volved in it. She be­came known in the 1980s with “gallery talks” staged in mu­se­ums and gal­leries. Since then she has cont­in­ued to ex­amine the mu­se­um as an in­sti­tu­tion in her per­for­mances, videos, and texts. What ideas or myths gov­ern our im­age of the artist? What mo­ti­vates col­lec­tors to buy art and to do­nate it? How do public mu­se­ums orig­i­nate, and what do they and their build­ings tells us about the con­tri­bu­tions of the rich to life in our ci­ties? How can the in­ter­ac­tion of th­ese play­ers in the artis­tic are­na best be con­veyed?

In 2001 Fras­er put on Art Must Hang, a per­for­mance in which she en­list­ed the aid of a video doc­u­men­ta­tion to re­cre­ate an im­promp­tu speech giv­en by Martin Kip­pen­berg­er at the open­ing of an ex­hi­bi­tion of works by Michel Würth­le, the own­er of the Paris Bar in Ber­lin. She im­i­tat­ed both Kip­pen­berg­er’s body lan­guage and his speech, pre­sent­ed in a lan­guage for­eign to her. The video of this per­for­mance re­veals how twen­ti­eth-cen­tu­ry artists de­vel­oped a public per­so­na as a kind of trade­mark. In Of­fi­cial Wel­come, a per­for­mance dat­ing from the same year, Fras­er again minute­ly an­a­lyzed the ri­t­u­als and in­ter­per­so­n­al be­havior pre­va­lent in the art world. She took frag­ments from speech­es by well-known artists, gal­lerists, cu­ra­tors, and crit­ics and as­sem­bled them to form a new speech in which she used her the­a­tri­cal skills to con­vey the spe­cifics of each role, switch­ing back and forth be­tween them.

In re­cent years, not least in re­sponse to fi­nan­cial cris­es and their reper­cus­sions, Fras­er has pub­lished sev­er­al ma­jor texts in which she draws on the meth­ods of so­ci­ol­o­gy, psy­cho­a­nal­y­sis, and eco­nomics to re­vise her no­tions of in­sti­tu­tio­n­al cri­tique and the ideas be­hind her work. Her most re­cent video work, Pro­jec­tion (2008), fea­tures her in the roles of both psy­cho­a­n­alyst and pa­tient. In ten short monologs she ad­dress­es the artist as an in­di­vi­d­u­al, but al­so points up the pro­jec­tion strate­gies de­vel­oped in the art world and dis­clos­es what the things they mask and re­veal about that world. In the es­say that formed her con­tri­bu­tion to the Whit­ney Bien­nial in 2012 she again ad­dressed the art world’s sub­tle ne­ga­tion strate­gies in times of fi­nan­cial cri­sis as well as the in­sti­tu­tion-crit­i­cal Oc­cu­py move­ment. In the text she de­scribes her in­ter­nal con­flict as an artist: As an ex­po­nent of in­sti­tu­tio­n­al cri­tique, she en­gages with the con­tra­dic­tions in­her­ent in the art mar­ket’s re­liance on wealthy col­lec­tors and in­ves­tors, but she al­so as­so­ci­ates close­ly with mu­se­ums and in­sti­tu­tions that de­pend on the (fi­nan­cial) sup­port of those very col­lec­tors and in­ves­tors.

This ma­jor ex­hi­bi­tion at the Mu­se­um Lud­wig is the first overview of Fras­er’s art to be seen in Eu­rope since a show at the Kun­stverein in Ham­burg in 2003. It doc­u­ments the artist’s ear­li­er oeu­vre as well as ex­plor­ing her new crit­i­cal ap­proach in the form of re­cent works. There is an ad­di­tio­n­al fo­cus on Fras­er’s ac­tiv­i­ty as per­former. She is pre­sent­ing Men on the Line, her lat­est even­ing-length per­for­mance, pre­miered in Los An­ge­les in 2012, for the first time in Eu­rope. In this work she start­ed by tran­scrib­ing the con­tents of a talk show broad­cast by the Los An­ge­les ra­dio sta­tion KPFK in 1972, in which four men dis­cuss their com­mit­ment to femi­n­ism and the mo­tives be­hind it. In the per­for­mance she im­i­tates the men’s speech, in­clud­ing each and ev­ery he­s­i­ta­tion and in­ter­rup­tion. In this way she pre­sents a com­pelling in­ter­pre­ta­tion of a piece of so­cial and gen­der his­to­ry.   At the open­ing of the ex­hi­bi­tion Fras­er will al­so per­form May I Help You (1991). For the du­ra­tion of the show vis­i­tors can see this ear­li­er work pre­sent­ed by pro­fes­sio­n­al ac­tors in the mu­se­um’s gal­leries.

A ca­t­a­logue fea­tur­ing re­cent texts by the artist and es­says by Bar­bara En­gel­bach and Gregg Bor­dowitz is be­ing pub­lished in a bilin­gual edi­tion (En­glish and Ger­man) on the oc­ca­sion of the ex­hi­bi­tion.

Ex­hi­bi­tion cu­ra­tor: Bar­bara En­gel­bach Ca­t­a­logue ed­i­tor: Car­la Cugi­ni, Ge­sellschaft für Mod­erne Kunst, Mu­se­um Lud­wig, Cologne