Andre Fraser – Official Welcome, 2001, Crying Part of Performance: 01:03:47-01:07:34
- The original text of Official Welcome includes quotations, unattributed in the actual performance, from a number of contemporary artists and critics including Benjamin Buchloh, Gabriel Orozco, Damien Hirst, Tracy Emin and Kara Walker, as well as comments made by Bill and Hillary Clinton.
- Each time Official Welcome is performed, Fraser adapts small elements of her script so that the speech includes specific references to the institution involved in the event.
- For the version performed in Hamburg, Fraser incorporated comments on her work written by Yilmaz Dziewior, the curator of the show at the Kunstverein 2003.
- Both the content of the speech and the manner in which Fraser performs in the video satirise the conventions of formal art events.
- The work places particular emphasis on the exaggerated praise often given to an artist’s work by critics and curators, and the arrogance or false modesty that may be offered by artists in return.
- In 2012 Fraser suggested that Official Welcome is about: “the profound ambivalence that’s haunted so much twentieth-century art and particularly avant-garde traditions – the kind of love-hate relationship that artists have with art, its institutions, and the people who support them.”
Playing a role:
- exploring the different roles played by individuals within the art world, as well as the purposes and policies of art institutions -> institutional critique.
- Fraser does not explicitly inform the audience of the specific role she is inhabiting at any one time, the changes between different personae are signalled by distinct shifts in her tone, language and posture, often to comic effect.
- For instance, while she is fluid and grandiose during some sections, at other times she stutters as if struggling to articulate her thoughts.
- Official Welcome can also be viewed within the history of performance art, especially in its claim that the performer is ‘an object in an artwork’. In stripping down to her Gucci underwear and high-heeled shoes, Fraser draws a parallel with Show 1998, a work by the Italian artist Vanessa Beecroft in which fifteen female models (ten wearing Gucci underwear and high-heels and five in only their shoes) were positioned in the atrium of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York.
- In Official Welcome the provocations Fraser issues while standing in her underwear – including ‘kiss my ass’ and ‘kiss my tits’ – draw attention to how the female body has been depicted in art throughout history
- “I’m not a person today. I’m an object in an artwork. It’s about emptiness.“
- and raise questions about the status of women within the art world more generally.