Andrea Fraser exhibition muses ‘What do I, as an artist, provide?’

For the past two decades, Andrea Fraser has dramatized the relationship between art and its audiences through a series of performances, videos and photographs. Adopting a variety of art-world positions — the docent, the curator, the dealer, the collector, the critic — Fraser exposes and critiques the ways in which the artistic subject, as well as the art object, are staged and reified by the art institution.

A still from Andrea Fraser's video
A still from Andrea Fraser’s video “Museum Highlights: A Gallery Talk” (1989) in which Fraser portrays fictional docent Jane Castleton leading unsuspecting museum visitors on a subversively scripted tour of galleries as well as restrooms and water fountains.

From May 11-July 16, the Kemper Art Museum will present “Andrea Fraser, ‘What do I, as an artist, provide?'” The artist’s first Midwest solo exhibition, the show includes performance-based videos, photographs and other works from the mid-1980s to the present.

The exhibition will highlight a series of recent C-prints in which Fraser employs appropriated imagery to investigate how art history constructs the artist as a transhistorical subject and, in particular, how that construction is articulated in relation to representations of women.

The C-prints are made from images Fraser created in 1984 by superimposing slides of modern and old master paintings and drawings. The resulting works are both dissonant and seductive. For example, in “Untitled (Pollock/Titian) #4” (1984/2005), Titian’s “Venus” gently dematerializes into one of Jackson Pollock’s all-over fields.

The exhibition also explores Fraser’s strategic use of video installation and projection. The humorous “Museum Highlights: A Gallery Talk” (1989), filmed at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, shows Fraser as a fictional docent leading unsuspecting visitors on a subversively scripted tour of galleries as well as restrooms and water fountains.

Conversely, for “Little Frank and His Carp” (2001) — filmed with hidden cameras at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao in Spain — Fraser adopts the role of museum visitor, touring the collection and listening to the official audio guide, which recommends, among other things, sensually stroking the museum walls.

Similarly, “A Visit to the Sistine Chapel” (2005) follows Fraser through the Vatican Museums as she listens to the audio guide and attempts to contemplate the works despite distracting gift shops and throngs of tourists wearing headphones, taking pictures and making their own videos of their art experience.

Fraser is a visiting associate professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, whose work has been exhibited worldwide and is included in major public collections internationally.

Curated by Meredith Malone, curatorial intern, “Andrea Fraser, ‘What do I, as an artist, provide?'” is the second in the museum’s series of Focus exhibitions, which explore a theme, a single work or a group of works by a single artist.

An opening reception will be held from 6-9 p.m. May 11, with the artist presenting a gallery talk at 6:30 p.m.

The reception, talk and exhibition are free and open to the public. For more information, call 935-4523 or visit