In this article we present and discuss the working process and the works-in-progress that resulted from a learning experiment as part of our seminar on “Cultural production in the context of contemporary art” (summer semester 2015). This seminar took place as part of the Museumsakademie, an initiative of the Museum der Moderne (MdM) in Salzburg.
Sabine Breitwieser, director of the museum, invited various art academies and universities in Austria and Germany to engage in the exhibition of Andrea Fraser’s work (March 21–July 5, 2015). The website states, “The Museum der Moderne Salzburg is the first institution in Austria to present a comprehensive survey of the work of the American artist Andrea Fraser (1965 Billings, Montana, lives in Los Angeles, USA). Her groundbreaking work has sparked several controversial debates and has made Fraser one of the most influential artists of her generation.” (Museum der Moderne website). Our article is based on a talk we gave at the Museumsakademie’s final symposium on June 13, 2015 at the Museum der Moderne where all nine participating groups, most from fine art academies, presented the projects they had developed.
We held a series of seven events within the MuseumsAkademie. Twenty-two students from the University of Salzburg and two from the Mozarteum University along with a few non-university visitors participated. The students came from various disciplines, most from communication studies but also from theology, European Union studies, art history, music and performance studies, history, art education, and voice studies. In contrast to an art academy, we work with students from various fields, which made it a so-called “wild mix” of sorts. For most students it was the first time that they reflected on the contemporary art field and on art practices. Consequently, we began by laying some groundwork and providing a theoretical base on the development of artistic practices since the 1960s. The general aim was to explore the issues of artistic practice and cultural production within Andrea Fraser’s exhibition by linking theory and practice. Our main aim as lecturers was to initiate processes of learning and reflection on issues of contemporary art, and also, through engaging with the work of Andrea Fraser, introducing the students to critical perspectives on the relationship between art, cultural production, institutions, and society.