Since the 1980s Andrea Fraser has achieved renown for performances that interrogate social structures with humor and pathos, aligning herself with feminism and institutional critique. While Fraser’s video and performance works are often associated with investigations of art institutions, her performances since the early 2000s evidence a turn toward analyzing the intersection between sociopolitical and psychological structures as they produce individual and group identity. Representative of this turn is Men on the Line: Men Committed to Feminism, KPFK, 1972 (2012), a video installation that will be on view at the Hammer. For this work Fraser created a script from a little-known Pacifica Radio archival recording of four men articulating their affinities with and support for feminism and women’s rights. Fraser presents this group discussion in a solo performance, adopting mimetic gestures and "masculine" clothing that complicate the institution of gender. Owing to the subtlety of her performance, Fraser displays an affective investment in the anxious exchanges of these male feminists. By embodying the men's struggles with feminism and masculinity, Fraser's sobering reperformance serves as a model for how socially defined identities might forgo their gendered positions so as to enact a politics of care and empathy.
In conjunction with the video installation, the Hammer will premiere a new performance by Fraser in the museum's Billy Wilder Theater exploring the political and cultural polarization of American society.
The Hammer currently owns six of Fraser’s single-channel video works as part of the Hammer Contemporary Collection. Coinciding with the exhibition is the release of Andrea Fraser: Collected Interviews, 1990–2018, a publication coedited by the art historian Rhea Anastas and artists Alejandro Cesarco and Andrea Fraser, and published by A.R.T. Press and Koenig Books, London. The publication presents the artist’s voice in dialogue with interlocutors ranging from professional peers to journalists from the popular media and contextualizes Fraser’s practice in the artistic, institutional, and discursive fields in which she intervenes.
Hammer Projects: Andrea Fraser is organized by Connie Butler, chief curator, with Ikechukwu Onyewuenyi, curatorial assistant.