Be Your Own Critic: Andrea Fraser & Wanda Raimundi-Ortiz

Recently, I was reading an article in ARTnews about the burgeoning trend in art circles that has been described as "poking fun at art-world inequities." Carolina A. Miranda pointed to the practice as a potentially enlightening process for both the artist and viewer, and cited Joe Sola. Sola's philosophy is multidisciplinary and borrows heavily from film history in order to animate his own perspective as a working artist. Through video, drawing, performance--even stuntman antics--his work is one of the many in a larger pool of cage rattlers. What is the perceived cage? You guessed it--the high art realm, which includes galleries, critiques, and even the less formal studio visit.

It's been done before (about twentysomething years ago) by Andrea Fraser, the New York-based artist who famously humped the interior of a museum. It's not any more graceful than it sounds, and this is the intention--as Frieze's Melissa Gronlund aptly summarized her contribution to a more honest art dialogue:
Andrea Fraser’s performances add gender and sexual dimensions to the critique of art institutions carried out by Hans Haacke, Daniel Buren, Carl Andre and others. Fraser’s approach is usually to assume the role of a museum volunteer or invited artist and then shift her position during the course of her performance to one of keen critic.
Gronlund proceeded to mention that Fraser's writings about high art society is less than "heartening" (and isn't this what we seek when we seek art out?) but do not despair. This can indeed induce what I'd say are tough art historical times. I mean, is EVERYTHING about money? At these moments, it is achingly common to resent the facile nature of commodification and the fading promise of social mobility within such an enclosed, precious space.

But don't worry--the good news is that it's not a real space. It's imaginary. Yes, everyone, it's all in our minds, which is the reason that Conceptual Art came to be. By participating, and carrying your experience away from institutions (galleries, museums, universities), the exchange is distorted and ultimately enriched. Artists are becoming more brave by the second, and nothing is off limits for examination. For example, it wasn't always common to use horror films as inspiration for performance art.

The ARTnews article mentioned a remarkably funny and intelligent young artist, Wanda Raimundi-Ortiz. Her accessible version of an Art History lecture provides an additional version of a critical voice for the public. By means of a YouTube channel--a revolutionary step in inviting audiences to actively participate in creative dialogues--her character appears to be the stereotypical uneducated homegirl but quickly dismantles such a flimsy identity. Instead, she's the girl that might be sitting next to you in class or exhibiting at a gallery nearby. Watch this video, titled Critics.

Wanda Raimundi-Ortiz stood out to me as I read about the new generation of whistleblowers and court jesters. In a tongue-in-cheek gesture to the increasingly sterile language used to explain art to "the public," Raimundi-Ortiz's YouTube character, a Puerto-Rican New Yorker Chuleta, introduces herself as an intellectual ally who wished nothing more than to "bridge the gap." This reminded me of the jovial and relaxed conversations that truly display a love for art, and more importantly, a desire to communicate to others. Raimundi-Ortiz's series, "Ask Chuleta," offers what ARTnews identified as an informative resource in the 21st century. I love that she said, "Google Donald Judd" so much!

Carolina A. Miranda made sure to remind ARTnews readers of an important quality that cuts through any potential socioeconomic boundary that we might experience in pursuing our goals:
Ultimately, many of these works are steeped in a profound appreciation of art—even as they poke fun of it.
Or as Chuleta says, "I'mma school myself." What Conceptual Art started years ago is this: we don't always visit art works to blankly admire and escape reality. At the most profound moments, we can imagine ourselves making it and speaking on its behalf, no matter where we come from.

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