Wednesday, August 24, 2016


View Andrea Fraser video here

Filmed with hidden cameras at the Guggenheim Bilbao, in "Little Frank and His Carp" Fraser reverses her well-known role as museum docent, performing instead the position of a museum visitor listening to the official audio guide- which advises visitors, among other things, to caress the building's "powerfully sensual" curves. "Little Frank and His Carp" was produced by Consonni, Bilbao. 

Andrea Fraser’s artistic practice includes performance-based work, video, context art, and institutional critique. In her 1989 work Museum Highlights , she adopts the persona of a tour guide but delivers outlandish information as she leads unsuspecting visitors through the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Little Frank and His Carp is a performance work filmed by hidden cameras at (and without the prior knowledge or permission of) the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain. Prompted by an audio guide, the ubiquitous tool of the museum visit, Fraser follows its instructions and “interacts” with architect Frank Gehry’s fish-shaped tower at the center of the hall.


  1. If shown out of context, I understand how some of the still images of this clip could be received with outrage - accusations of indecency or bad gallery etiquette or efforts to santion female bodies. However now that I saw the whole video, I can relate to Fraser's encounter with Frank Gehry's landmark Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao. I think she reflects todays superficial, short, passing love life upon Gehry's starchitecture that shamelessly celebrates selfishness / the ego.

    A part of why I see Fraser's act as appropriate is that I have experienced intense physical attraction to buildings like WR Grace building, Oculus, Met Breuer Building and Citigroup building - all of which impacted me on a physical/corporal/material level - perhaps its the kind of cheap love that she is feeling for Little Frank's Carp. The audio tour also timely motivates the visitor to touch and feel the attraction of the warm limestone and getting tactile with surfaces can certainly be pleasurable. In some respect I also believe that Andrea Fraser's institutional critique is provoked or atleast sparked by Gehry's (and Guggenheim foundations) dereliction of duty as a designer of a museum / gallery space in which (atleast in my obsessive and highbrow opinion) the ART should be the center of attention, not the surroundings.

    Long story short: Frank Gehry broke the etiquette with his outstanding but impotent building and so Andrea Fraser used satire to make the building atleast somehow fruitful.

  2. The woman clings to the words and diction of the audio recordings. She reacts to each phrase and word with a facial expression, showing a sensitivity and response to an audio medium that is usually inherently not very thrilling on its own. Her reactions are an exaggeration and a sexualization of the relatively tame speech of the gentleman speaking on the recording. She takes the architects intention in construction and puts on an act of taking every sentence at face value -- as literally as possible. The limestone pillar is recognized for its almost phallic resemblance. This piece is humorous and nonchalant in its intention of production.