Raina Benoit revisits Andrea Fraser's performance at the New Orleans Museum of Art for the opening of Prospect.3.
New Orleans Museum of Art
1 Collins Diboll Circle
October 25, 2014
The nearly 250 auditorium seats at the New Orleans Museum of Art quickly filled until it was standing room only. There was an excited chatter. Many folks fanned themselves with the slender pieces of paper that read: Andrea Fraser / Not just a few of us, 2014 / Performance. Fraser, dressed in a black blazer and pants, walked onto the stage and grabbed the wooden podium. She unapologetically pointed to the back of the room commanding silence. There were no theatrical devices, no dimming of the lights, no introductions, no costumes, but the whole audience was with her, silenced and enthralled.
Not just a few of us condenses the 1991 New Orleans City Council hearing on the integration of historically segregated Mardi Gras krewes and private clubs from a daylong slugfest into a one-hour, one-woman show. Remaining behind the podium, Fraser channels 19 of the hearing participants. It’s an impressive display of stamina and dexterity, steering clear of parody or caricature—a delicate task when assuming one of New Orleans’ many dialects. Fraser’s incisive editing of the hearing’s heated debate cuts to the heart of the matter, exposing the complex legacy of personal and institutional racism in the South. Not just a few of us elevates the performer’s role from entertainer to conduit for communal introspection and takes the biennial (now triennial) with it. In an international art world filled with empty spectacle and nepotistic navel gazing, Prospect.3 has the potential to merely amplify the vacuum of the art market. Fraser’s performance was an experience and a work of art.
Andrea Fraser re-performed Not just a few of us to another packed house at Tulane University on January 21, 2015.