Fraser Chapter 1

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S.R. What was the strongest influence on your work?

A.F. The strongest influences on my work were probably, at least initially, from critics more than artists and that would be Craig Owens and Benjamin Buchloh. I started studying with Craig Owens in 1983 when I was seventeen years old. And he is the person who basically introduced me to critical theory and also to institutional critique although he himself wasn't so directly associated with institutional critique or Conceptual Art. But at that time I also started reading Douglas Crimp and Benjamin Buchloh, and shortly thereafter I also met Benjamin Buchloh and started taking his class. Through Benjamin Buchloch I met Louise Lawler and also Allan McCollum who, as artists, were very important influences on me. I wrote about Louise Lawler's work in the mid-80s, in 1985, and also on McCollum's work in 1986, and thinking through their work was a very important process. In terms of older artists and other generations of artists who influenced me... – Yvonne Rainer was a very important influence. I studied with Yvonne at the Whitney Program in 1984/85; at that time, she was releasing »The Man who Envied Women«. And »The Man who Envied Women« along with »Journeys from Berlin«, even more »Journeys from Berlin«, are really central to the way that I began to approach constructing texts and pre-constructing performance scripts, particularly in terms of trying to work through some relationship between the subjective and the social in a textual way, but even more particularly with »Journeys from Berlin« in terms of dealing with text in a discursive form in a spatial rather than a narrative way. A lot of my later performances which are constructed around a kind of mapping of positions, like »May I help you?« and then also »Official Welcome« and »Inaugural Speech« as well as other work that I've done, like my project for the Generali Foundation, which involves sort of mapping different kinds of positions within a particular field and the relationship between positions is really very much influenced by her work, and particularly by »Journeys from Berlin«. Oddly enough, it was only a bit later that I was exposed in a very strong way to the work of Hans Haacke. My first encounter with Hans's work was through text, through writing about his work, and then there was a retrospective in the New Museum in the mid-80s, I think it was in `86, and then I met him in `89. There was a somehow longer process for me of taking in all of his work and the great range of his work and his practice of mapping and his approach to social and cultural systems which also became a very big influence. But because of the sort of prior influence of Yvonne Rainer and her strategies and also Louise Lawler. It's funny that for me those conceptual strategies were sort of filtered through performance in a way from the very beginning. Through performance and through a conception of institutional critique that for me in the beginning I didn`t... - It was only later that I sort of really came to have a fuller understanding what the relationship was between institutional critique and Conceptual Art. I mean now I say institutional critique is a tendency within Conceptual Art, but at that time I associated Conceptual Art very much with Joseph Kosuth, Art & Language, with this sort of Anglo-American axis of Conceptual Art. And I thought of institutional critique really almost as a kind of an independent practice, and later on I developed a fuller understanding of that history. And then others - Martha Rosler was a very big influence, Mary Kelly was a big influence, Adrian Piper was a big influence - although a little bit later.

Andrea Fraser »