Official Welcome

Andrea Fraser


Video, 00:30:00.
Materials: dvd

Collection: Collection M HKA, Antwerp (Inv. no. BK7517_M356).

In Official Welcome, performance artist Andrea Fraser alternates between the role of artist and that of presenter/art connoisseur. From behind the dais, the various protagonists bid the public welcome to a ceremony that will award a prize to a (fictional) artist. At first, the speeches seem like the usual fare for this sort of ‘event’. But as the performance progresses, it becomes increasingly clear that a parody is at foot. In the monologues we get every cliché in the book that we’re used to hearing at an awards ceremony. The speeches, but the body-language and intonation too, become ever-more grotesque. Halfway through the performance, Fraser starts undressing.

In Gucci underwear and high heels, she says: “Today I’m not a person. I’m an object in a work of art.” In this outfit she continues the alternating role of heavyweight presenter and the artist receiving the prize, ultimately removing everything. Naked, she pursues both incarnations, something that engenders an estranging, uneasy effect. The performance is recorded in the home of the private collector who commissioned this piece. The audience, seen reflected in the windows behind the artist, consists mainly of other collectors. In this context the satire is even more biting, and Andrea Fraser acidly comments on the symbiotic relationship between the well-intentioned avant-garde artist and rich art patrons and collectors.

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