Andrea Fraser: Little Frank and His Carp

November 4, 2011–February 26, 2012


Andrea Fraser’s artistic practice includes performance-based work, video, context art, and institutional critique. In her 1989 work Museum Highlights, she adopts the persona of a tour guide but delivers outlandish information as she leads unsuspecting visitors through the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Little Frank and His Carp is a performance work filmed by hidden cameras at (and without the prior knowledge or permission of) the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain. Prompted by an audio guide, the ubiquitous tool of the museum visit, Fraser follows its instructions and “interacts” with architect Frank Gehry’s fish-shaped tower at the center of the hall.

In a 2005 interview, Fraser discussed Little Frank and His Carp:

  • What struck me about the audio tour for the Guggenheim Bilbao was the explicitness of the seduction....The audio guide promises transcendence of the social through a transgression: the always forbidden touching of art—or here, architecture-as-art….
  • The tour distances the museum from the difficulties of “modern art,” claiming that the building’s sensual appeal “has nothing to do with age or class or education.”  Freed of social/symbolic restrictions, we can make ourselves at home in the sensual, caring arms of the (mother) museum.


Image stills from: Andrea Fraser. American, born 1965. Little Frank and His Carp. 2001.
Single channel video. Purchased with funds from the Contemporary Associates
Running time: 6 minutes