May I Help You?

Andrea Fraser


Video, 00:20:00.
Materials: dvd

Collection: Collectie M HKA / Vlaamse Gemeenschap (Inv. no. BK7515_M354).

In the performance May I help you?, written and directed by Andrea Fraser, actors interpret the roles of curator, exhibition supervisor and visitors in a museum. Sometimes they directly face the viewer, sometimes they enter into conversation with a visitor. They talk about their preference for certain works and tell of their family and social backgrounds. The actors act out archetypical visitors and collectors like the rich, prudish female collector who ‘lunches with the Rockefellers’, a layman to art who ‘finds it pretty but doesn’t know anything about it’, and the pompous gallery owner. Inspired by the work of sociologist Pierre Bourdieu, in this performance Andrea Fraser investigates which patterns play a role in cultural participation and domination. She addresses questions such as: who has access to art?, who can buy art?, why do people collect?, what determines the value of a work of art?

The work of Andrea Fraser is a nuanced critique on the relationship between artists, collectors and art institutions. She delves into the mechanisms behind today’s art trade. For this performance, Andrea Fraser works together with the artist Alan McCollum. His work 100 Plaster Surrogates forms the background for the performance. The black paintings of various formats are in fact plaster objects. The choice for this work is not accidental. With Plaster Surrogates, Alan McCollum wants viewers to think about uniqueness vis-à-vis mass production. His work reinforces the critical character of the performance. Andrea Fraser based the texts for this performance on publications about and interviews with collectors, and on sociological studies.

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