Procedural Matters; Andrea Fraser on the Art of Micheal Asher

By Fraser, Andrea | Artforum International, Summer 2008 | Go to article overview

Procedural Matters; Andrea Fraser on the Art of Micheal Asher


Fraser, Andrea, Artforum International


I PURCHASED MICHAEL ASHER'S Writings 1973-1983 on Works 1969-1979 soon after it was published in 1983. At the time, it was the most expensive book I had ever bought. I read it from cover to cover and made lots of notes in the margins. It had a profound influence on my development as an artist. Ten years later, I included my copy in Services, a project I organized with Helmut Draxler in Germany examining the social and economic conditions of post-studio art. It was stolen from the show. If whoever took the book is reading this now, I beg you to return it to me. It is something I treasured, and the loss of it still makes me sad.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

I miss the book especially now, as I write about Asher's recent exhibition at the Santa Monica Museum of Art, for which he reconstructed the supporting studs of all the temporary walls that had been built in the museum's main exhibition space since 1998, when it moved into its current building. In a small side gallery, he also installed floor plans indicating the placement of walls for each of the forty-four exhibitions presented by the museum during that time period. These were affixed directly to the walls with precisely even spacing, so that they completely circled the room in a continuous band, even wrapping around the corners. Tear-away handouts with all of the floor plans were also provided at the back entrance to the main gallery, so visitors could review them while moving through the installation.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

The SMMOA exhibition seemed reminiscent of Asher's canonical works from the 1970s, documented in the 1983 book, many of which involved the displacement, removal, or reconstruction of walls or ceilings or of aspects of their surfaces. These include his 1973 exhibitions at Galleria Franco Toselli in Milan, for which he sandblasted the walls, and at Galerie Heiner Friedrich in Cologne, for which he painted the ceiling (in both exhibition and nonexhibition areas) a shade slightly darker than the floor; his 1974 exhibition at Claire Copley Gallery in Los Angeles, for which he removed a wall between the exhibition space and the office space; and his 1979 exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, where he relocated some of the building's exterior aluminum wall panels to an interior gallery. All of these projects are discussed, in the SMMOA show's excellent catalogue, by Miwon Kwon, who also mentions Asher's 1982 exhibition at the Museum Haus Lange in Krefeld, Germany, where he reconstructed the museum's interior walls at a ninety-degree rotation, with the result that some of them ended up outside the building.

As many people have noted, Asher's SMMOA exhibition seems to lend itself--more than his works of the intervening years, few of which have engaged architecture so directly--to the now-orthodox reading established by his 1983 book and by the writings of Benjamin H. D. Buchloh, who coauthored it. That reading, often associated with "institutional critique," a term with which Asher himself has never particularly identified, has focused on his architectural interventions in museums and galleries--positing these endeavors as paradigmatic of a critique of the neutrality of the institutional frame, and of the autonomy of artworks therein. Asher's SMMOA exhibition has been received in a similar vein, as exposing the museum's exhibition history and making its display structures visible and materially present.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

The question of what, exactly, is critical about such operations has dogged "institutional critique." In this case, it is begged by the institution itself, which described the "monumental new installation" on its website as a "conceptual history" of a kunsthalle that "reinvents itself with each new exhibition" and as a fitting way to commemorate the museum's twentieth anniversary, with which Asher's exhibition happened to coincide. As SMMOA director Elsa Longhauser put it, "The absolute purity of this vision is the highest exemplar of the work we do. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Procedural Matters; Andrea Fraser on the Art of Micheal Asher
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.