Originally published: October 31, 2007
Performance artist Andrea Fraser has long been acclaimed as provocateur, leading a unique style of performance art coined as “institutional critique.” The artist has conducted many famous performances, such as the 1989 work “Museum Highlights,” where the artist posed as a Museum tour guide under her stage name Jane Castleton at the Philadelphia Museum. During the piece the artist walked different groups around the institution using grandiose verbiage often associated with overly intellectualized critics, art historians and gallery directors. Perhaps her most controversial work to date is “Untitled” (2002) a videotape performance where Fraser had a 60 minute sexual encounter with a prominent art collector through a contractual agreement. The artist proposed the piece to the Friedrich Petzel Gallery and asked them to facilitate an agreement between the artist and the patron in which the patron participated in the production of contemporary art through a sexual act in a hotel room. In the end, the patron paid $20,000 for the work in the form of an unedited videotape of the performance, and one other copy went on view at the Friedrich Petzel Gallery. The New York Times Magazine reviewed the work and reflected both its art historical position and its opposition by many in the New York community.