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Not Your Average Tour

Kit, High School Intern

Posted: Monday, June 18, 2012

Kit watching Andrea Fraser's film Museum Highlights: A Gallery Talk in Spies in the House of Art: Photography, Film, and Video. Photograph by Emily Perreault.

«In Andrea Fraser's performance art piece, a video titled Museum Highlights: A Gallery Talk, the artist assumes the character of Jane Castleton, a docent at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The fictional Castleton leads the audience through what starts as an ordinary tour but slowly becomes more and more bizarre as she discusses not works of art but objects such as the museum's water fountains and restrooms. Fraser's script borrows from many eclectic sources, including Good Housekeeping magazine, a 1960s anthology on poverty, and the writings of Immanuel Kant.»

While watching this piece in the gallery, I couldn't stop laughing out loud at Castleton's absurdity. At the same time, Fraser's messages about identity, class, and elitism in the art world left me with a new awareness of the art museum's function not only as a building that contains art but as an institution with the power to distinguish "good" art from "bad" art.

Do you think that museums have the right to determine what is defined as "good" or "bad" art? Does the viewer? If you've visited the exhibition, what did you think of Andrea Fraser's video?

We welcome your response to these questions below.

Department(s): Photographs
Tag(s): Andrea Fraser, video


  • Mikhail Yusufov says:

    I feel that the museum is constatly defining what is "good" art and what is "bad" art. By choosing not to collect certain artists they are making a judgement call. They are picking one artist over another every time they collect a piece of art work because those could be funds potentially spent on another artist. The museum builds a cannon of artists because they selectively choose whose work goes into their collection and whose work falls into the sidelines of art history. They feel that they are most qualified to choose the "best" art because of experience, but in the end all art is based on tastes and the collections reflect the tastes of curators, but indirectly this tells the public what art is worth considering and what art is not.

    Posted: June 20, 2012, 4:19 p.m.

  • BEN says:

    It looks really interesting and fascinating

    Posted: June 29, 2012, 3:14 a.m.

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About the Author

Kit is an intern with the Museum's High School Internship Program.

About this Blog

This blog, written by the Metropolitan Museum's Teen Advisory Group (TAG) and occasional guest authors, is a place for teens to talk about art at the Museum and related topics.