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Live Cinema: Museum Highlights: A Gallery Talk

September 30–November 10, 2006

Betacam SP NTSC, 30 minutes

Andrea Fraser, American, Born 1965

New York artist Andrea Fraser is best known for her series of "gallery talks"—enactments that highlight gender and class relations inherent in the structures and histories of art organizations. In 1989, the Philadelphia Museum of Art invited Fraser to perform Museum Highlights: A Gallery Talk, a tour in which she adopted the fictional persona of a docent named Jane Castleton. Visitors gathered in the Museum's West Entrance on five designated days, waiting for the scheduled "Contemporary Viewpoints Artist Lecture by Andrea Fraser" or for one of the Museum's numerous docent-led tours. Castleton arrived instead, ready to talk to anyone who would listen. She led these unsuspecting visitors on tours of not only the galleries, but also the restrooms, Museum Store, and cafeteria. In addition to talking about art, she discussed topics such as corporate and private sponsorship.

While Fraser's gallery talk appears improvisational at times, it was thoroughly researched and entirely scripted. The factual components of the tour were taken from municipal reports, Museum pamphlets, Daniel Patrick Moynihan's On Understanding Poverty, and other sources. Critical of the official voice of the museum, Fraser strives to further our awareness of what large art establishments expect from their visitors. Humorous and subversive, Museum Highlights brings to light the subtle, yet intrinsic, preconceptions that shape our relationship to these institutions.

Purchased with funds contributed by the members of the Committee on Modern and Contemporary Art

Main Building

About Live Cinema

Live Cinema is a series of programs in the Video Gallery of the Museum that explores the vast production of single-channel video and filmwork by a diverse group of local, national, and international artists. In the last decade an ever-increasing number of contemporary artists have appropriated these mediums as an artistic outlet, in a dialogue with the early video and Super 8 practices of the sixties and the tradition of experimental filmmaking. Each program of the Live Cinema series focuses on a specific aspect of this work, in order to both map and analyze this important facet of contemporary art production. Certain Live Cinema programs are accompanied by a brochure where guest writers discuss the works exhibited, and also by public lectures given by the participating artists.

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