Andrea Fraser takes up the position of the stripping woman in her performance Official Welcome, in which she addresses an assembled art audience giving an introduction to ‘the artist Andrea Fraser’. The scripted dialogue, in which she performs ‘artist’ and ‘supporter’ quotes a number of collectors’ and artists’ real introductions and acceptance speeches, all delivered whilst Frasers strips naked and then clothes herself again by the end of the performance:
Yeah, the art world likes “bad girls.” But if you tell the truth and people don’t want to hear the truth. If you’re honest about how stupid and fucked over life is, you end up in the tabloids. I don’t go looking for it. It just comes in a big stinking tidal wave.
Removing bra, then shoes, then thong.
I’m used to it. It’s boring.
Well, thank you. Thank you for your dedication, for your vision, for your life. I think we all must dare, as artists do, to break free of the past and to create a better future, rooted in the values that never change. That’s the great lesson our artists teach us.
Fraser’s work can be understood within the context ‘Institutional Critique’, as pioneered by the artists Hans Haacke and Michael Asher. Within this positioning her work takes on an intellectually engaged examination of what we expect a contemporary artist to give us; she subverts what we think art is by conflating the site of the artwork, the museum, the collector, the critic and the performer. Can we be sure where they all begin and end?
The project ‘Untitled’ is also really worth looking up. Fraser’s work is always smart and fearless and I have incredible respect for her practice.