How do these two artists critically engage and challenge the museum as a physical, architectural site as well as a larger cultural apparatus?
Fraser and Asher have been presented as two artists who have engaged widely and challenged the situation of the museum becoming a physical, architectural site and a larger cultural apparatus. Both artists remark that museums are usually wrong in the manner, in which they offer their art presentation. They also criticize the traditional site of production that was used for exhibiting artworks.
Firstly, Asher has focused on his architectural interventions in museums and the various galleries. This posits the museum endeavors as a paradigm of a critique involving neutrality of the institutional frame (Asher, 2008). It is also related to the autonomy of works that are contained therein. Fraser states that there are various efforts that have been expended to indicate the critique of museums and galleries in the various installations that have been implemented by Asher. He states that the most consistent object that can be found in Asher's critical intervention is not the institution of the art or museum gallery but the artistic practice, as well as the symbolic and material economies, in which this operates.
Through a closer look at the installation of studs in museums, Asher was quick to note that he failed to know whether people would be able to get into these spaces (Asher, 2008). He stated that the things remained unclear and that he had no idea of what would later happen to them (Muchnic, 2008). He also stated that he was interested to see the manner, in which the viewer understood the placement of the studs and them being seen as a sculpture abstract that was made of frames (Knight, 2008). He criticized the studs by remarking that they lacked reflection on the process of viewership in the museums as well as that of the perception itself.
According to Fraser, the issue of commodification was one thing that ensured that there was the creation of alternative spaces for exhibition though this is not necessary for distribution (Fraser, 2008). The alternative space that would be created relied on outside sources in terms of its funding, and this suggested that there was the importance of the creation of a spacious gallery to enhance the physical appearance of the museums (Muchnic, 2008). She stated that the gallery was something essential for the cultural reception of her works. In addition, it was something representative of a cultural apparatus, which was important for the exhibition of the works of various artists.
Fraser had also reinterpreted the site-specific art that earlier emerged in the decade when she started working as an artist. She has close relations with Asher in the sense that she had read most of his works before she started practicing art (Fraser, 2008). This means that she was working following the line of work that had been created by Asher. Both of them aimed at closing the gap between sites of production and consumption (Knight, 2008). This ensured that site specificity provided for a direct and potentially critical engagement with the social contexts of art. This also ensured that it freed art from the logic of commodity production.
It has been seen that through the works of Asher, the installation of SMMoA was destroyed completely after some time (Knight, 2008). What has been left of it is the exhibition catalog, the installation of photographs and the documents that have been generated throughout the years. The remainder has been archived in Asher's personal archive. Thus, Asher can be credited to the retrospective to museums (Asher, 2008). There was a critical perspective from Fraser that looked at the formal qualities of the installation of studs in museums. According to her opinion, the densely placed studs were imaginary prisons thus rendering the museum outfit oppressive. It was also rendered contradicting to the self-representation of museums as free spaces. However, there are many other critics who found this issue of studs a pleasurable work of art.
In conclusion, the works Asher and Fraser have been very critical of the museum as a physical, architectural site as well as a larger cultural apparatus (Knight, 2008). It has been seen that the barriers separating artistic and material dimensions of art remain more obstinate than the wall that separates the exhibition space and office that Asher used to oppose (Muchnic, 2008). The primary site for barriers may not be any longer the physical space of art but the space that is discursive for art history and criticism. The censorship of Asher in his criticism of the museums is more fundamental (Knight, 2008). The reason for this is the fact that it amounts to the denial of his monumental sacrifice and the demand it places on people.
How do their works differ?
There are differences that can be seen from the works of Fraser and Asher. Firstly, it is evident from their works that Asher was fond of dissecting his works of art through his regular practices (Knight, 2008). In contrast to the work of Fraser, Asher's contained less political underpinnings and they focused more on the phenomenological aspects of the viewer's experience for a work of art. An example that can be given in this case is that in 1974, Asher was commissioned to stage an exhibition in Los Angeles (Fraser, 2008). Before the exhibition started, he removed the wall that was used to partition an office area from the front of the exhibition space so that he could expose the visitors to the exhibition to the inner areas of the galleries (Asher, 2008). He also wanted to expose the gallerists to the visitors (Muchnic, 2008). When he expressed his opinion on this, he stated that as a gallery dealer, one must give the work an economic value. He added that the dealer is sometimes unable to reveal its actual function. In a paradoxical manner, this can be seen only through a conduit where it undergoes initial abstraction in the accrual of the exchange value.
Asher was an artist whose criticism of the institutions of the museums was a central theme in his works (Muchnic, 2008). He used to elaborate on the concept of art in the museums as something that was elitist stating that museums were institutions that had to create space to enhance better viewership of the displayed works. Asher usually ensured that his works were meant to invert the art norms of the world (Asher, 2008). On the other hand, Fraser used to provide works that were referred to as material works because they did not seem to function outside the traditional context of the marketplace. The works of Fraser derived their cultural meaning from the conventional exhibition supports, and they functioned in a variety of settings.
At the same time, the works of Fraser were endowed with an economic materiality and did not operate outside the cultural context (Fraser, 2008). The works were instrumental in influencing the works of the younger generation of artists that came after Fraser. They were also instrumental in showing the discrepancy of theory and practice, which is sufficient proof that the interdependence of production and distribution of artwork cannot be ignored. This shows that the works could be used in many instances and exhibitions to show various meanings that they carried.
In the works of Fraser, it is evident that she made them in a way that they could themselves be used to criticize arts. This is the reason she has been identified most with her practice of institutional critique. Her works drew parallels in the emerging form of post-internet art. Her artworks had the subversion of art as a product in an institutional setting. According to her statement, that is the manner, in which she would like people to understand her artistic practice. She wanted her works to demonstrate a form of counter practice within the field of cultural production (Fraser, 2008). This means that her works had a cultural touch that was more than that presented in the works of Michael Asher. The works of Fraser shows that they have the aim to reflect the fostering of the present ecosystem in a different o sort of critique. They had a focus of being used in the interplay between the modernity of the internet, art, and commerce. However, they were subjective of the consequences of institutional critique that were very far reaching.
It would be logical to state that Asher and Fraser are two artists who loved to express their opinions on issues that they were not satisfied with. This has been seen through the manner, in which they voiced their criticism in matters regarding museums and art galleries. They wanted museums to play the roles that they were made for that are showcasing various types of arts in a manner that gave people sufficient space and time to do so. Additionally, there were differences between these two artists and their works though Fraser sometimes borrowed ideas from Asher.