Go For It!

Zur Kunst, 2002

John Miller

The over-receptive viewer is the object of Little Frank and His Carp (2001). Here, a visitor to the Guggenheim Bilbao takes her audio tour utterly to heart. For this, Fraser enlisted several assistants to videotape her inside the museum with hidden cameras. Extolling the wonders of Frank Gehry’s quasi organic architecture, an ostentatious Acousti-guide voice suggests that the building might even comfort viewers faced with difficult or demanding art. At this prospect, Fraser’s “gullible” brow furrows until she accepts the Acousti-guide’s invitation to reach out and touch one of the museum’s hi-tech columns. Physical contact at once establishes a libidinal bond between viewer and building. Lightly stroking the panel gives way to passionate caresses. The male voice of the audio guide persists; it’s as if the woman is hering voices. Now swooning, she hikes up her dress and –butt thrust out for all to see – begins humping the column itself. Clearly, the idea that the museum’s building provides a refuge from artworks, instead of for them, is an odd one. Nonetheless, it is consistent with Frank Lloyd Wright’s avowed hostility toward painting and sculpture. Accordingly, Wright designed his Guggenheim building to be an artwork to compete with those it housed. Gehry, in contrast, maintains a close rapport with sculptors such as Oldenburg, Heizer and Serra. In this spirit, he thinks of his own work as sculpture. Even so, the Guggenheim Bilbao, like Wright’s antecedent, ends up as an assertion of the museum’s primacy over artist and viewer both. Ironically, it is the pliant (over-dominated) visitor´s unbridled passion that disrupts the museological decorum. Bystanders do double-takes, then pretend not to notice. Fraser’s conceit of being too innocent to know better approximates Jerry Rubin’s insurrectionary call (Do it!) for students to fuck in the classrooms. The enthusiast, however, simply smooths down her dress and proceeds to the exhibits.