Museum Highlights: A Gallery Talk, by Andrea Fraser, 1989

Andrea Fraser, Artist
Museum Highlights: A Gallery Talk , 1989

Single-channel video (Betacam SP NTSC), color, sound
30:00 min.
Credit Line
Hammer Museum, Los Angeles. Purchase. Photograph by Brian Forrest

In her performance and video works, Andrea Fraser often takes on personae that function both as character studies and as critical investigations of the sites for art, revealing the layers of context and construction (of class, gender, politics, etc.) that ground their very existence. In Museum Highlights, Fraser borrows the form and conventions of a museum tour, playing the role of Jane Castleton, a fictional docent. The tour is composed entirely of quotations from a variety of sources, including brochures from museum archives and art reviews as well as writings by authors as diverse as Immanuel Kant and Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan. Rather than take visitors through an exhibition at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Castleton points out elements of the institution's infrastructure and typically overlooked spaces, drawing attention to questions about pedagogy, aesthetic criteria, and systems of judgment at work within museums.