Official Welcome (Kunstverein Hamburg, September 9, 2003), 2001
Video, color, sound, 30 min
Written, directed and performed by Andrea Fraser
"Official Welcome was comissioned by and first performed at The MICA Foundation, New York, November 2001."
Collections Barbara and Howard Morse, Andrea Fraser
Commissioned by the MICA Foundation, Official Welcome was first performed in November 2001 for an audience of invited guests at the New York home of Barbara and Howard Morse, MICA's founders. MICAS's program includes the commission of one major project a year, which has been introduced at the Morse home with an "official welcome." Official Welcome appropri-ated this form for the project itself.
The performance begins with the artists thanking her patron-hosts and acknowledging the work of the Foundation. Imperceptibly, however, the artist's position changes from speaking about her patrons- about herself. She continues to shift roles, working her way through nine different pairs of artists and their supporters with a script based on fragments and artist’s statements and interviews, patron profiles, critics' essays and curators honorific speeches.
Official Welcome is an attempt to engage some of the most closely felt wants and contradic-tions at stake for artists: to be loved and admired and supported even while we critique and transgress. Moving through nine different sets of positions, the performance develops a kind of morphology of these contradictions, cataloging the play of bad faith and sincerity, cynicism and commitment, denial and ambivalence that haunt the rituals of recognition of human accom-plishment in the arts.
Official Welcome is a "situationally specific" performance that was conceived to be adapted to different sites. While the body of the script is fixed, the "Introduction" has been rewritten for subsequent performance. The artist asks whoever invites her to perform the piece to write a few paragraphs about her work and what has motivated the invitation. This material is then incorpo-rated into a new introduction.
With a new introduction prepared from a statement by Yilmaz Dziewior, Official Welcome was performed at the opening of the artist's exhibition at the Kunstverein in Hamburg. A videotape documenting the performance was then projected near to the entrance to the exhibition for the duration of the show. (Andrea Fraser)