We therefore focused on the discussion and reflection of core themes connected to Andrea Fraser’s work, which we identified as:
- Artistic practice and cultural production
- Institutional critique
- Feminist performance art
- Art as a social field, as elaborated in the work of Pierre Bourdieu
For these core themes we researched and pulled together a pool of texts concerning important terms, such as context art and artistic institutional critique, but also texts written by Andrea Fraser (e.g., “It’s Art when I say its art…”) and interviews with her. In the course of our sessions, the students worked in four groups and developed small experimental projects by starting from one of Andrea Fraser’s works and a corresponding core theme.
Structurally, we began with the artist Andrea Fraser and her work by visiting the exhibition opening and the artist talk the following day. In addition, we participated in an exhibition tour with the art mediation program. On April 30, we organized a symposium on “Artistic practice and institutional critique” with two invited speakers.
Our first guest was Carola Dertnig, a performance artist and professor for performance art at the Academy of Fine Art in Vienna. She gave a lecture/performance on “Staging Archive / Staging History.” She spoke about her view of the history of performance art and presented the project Let’s twist again: Performance in Wien from 1960 until today, an anthology she published with Stephanie Seibold (2006). In this they undertook a non-linear cartography of historical and contemporary performance artists in Vienna. Finally, Carola Dertnig provided us with a few examples of feminist performances and concluded with a performance project of her own.
Our second guest was Luisa Ziaja. She is a curator at the 21er Haus / Museum of Contemporary Art in Vienna and co-director of the postgraduate course educating/curating/managing at the University of Applied Arts Vienna. She talked about artistic institutional critique and the museum, and focused on potentials and contradictions of the difficult relationship between them. For example, she pointed out that the field is subjected to neoliberal tendencies that reinforce economic challenges and nowadays, institutional critique is part of the art historical canon. Luisa Ziaja showed examples of various artists in the field of institutional critique and how they use it as a method of self-reflection and transformation. Important questions she raised were: What role can the museum play in social processes? How can the museum be a space and a kind of laboratory, in which one can be active? Finally, she gave an overview of the exhibition she curated with C. Martinz-Turek Have The Cake And Eat It, Too. Institutional critique as instituent practice (2008, Kunsthalle Exnergasse Vienna).