Andrea Fraser’s controversial Untitled (2004), a videotape of her sexual encounter with a collector who agreed to participate anonymously as well as to pay nearly $20,000, was intended to express the artist’s relation to collectors as a form of prostitution. Yet critics complained about the banality of the video’s intended metaphor and about the “stiltedness” of the sex. They accused Fraser of engaging in actual prostitution. In this text, Jessica Chalmers interprets the “failure” of Fraser’s work in relation to the set of cultural relations she calls the “transgression economy.” Her article will suggest that some critics have misunderstood Fraser’s piece out of nostalgia for the market conditions of the 1970s and for the transgressive artistic strategies of that period. To these critics, the artist’s willing nudity and sexual exhibitionism made Untitled a mere capitulation to the market rather than a critique. Chalmers’s essay will interrogate the validity of this claim and discuss the pressures that guide the production of transgression as an aesthetic value today. Jessica Chalmers has published articles on artists including Marina Abramovic, Jenny Holzer, Barbara Kruger, and Cindy Sherman in such publications as Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism, Performance Research, TDR: The Drama Review, and Flash Art. As a performer with the V-Girls, she has also published in October. Chalmers received a PhD in comparative literature from New York University.
2008 — Article
Update on the Transgression Economy