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May I Help You?, 1991

May I Help You? examines the way in which art legitimises social differences. Andrea Fraser first presented this performance in New York in 1991, as part of the Allan McCollum exhibition, Plaster Surrogates. Fraser hired three actors from the American Fine Arts Co., making them appear as if they were members of the exhibition team. During normal gallery opening hours, they addressed visitors with a fifteen-minute monologue. The script, inspired by conversations with artists, collectors and dealers, as well as people outside the art world, incorporated six different voices, each representing a different social position. While actors began by adopting the words and the quiet, calm tone of a gallery owner talking about works ‘acquired for love’, the tone would suddenly change, and in a raised voice demand silence and the visitors’ attention, hectoring them like someone from outside the art world. To the visitors’ surprise, each adopted voice denied, in an implicit or explicit way, the one preceding it. Later, the script was adapted so Fraser herself could interpret the role, as she did on several occasions, including her performance during the exhibition Andrea Fraser. L’1% c’est moi presented at MACBA, Barcelona, in 2016.

Technical details

Original title:
May I Help You?
Registration number:
5625
Artist:
Fraser, Andrea
Date created:
1991
Date acquired:
2017
Fonds:
MACBA Collection. MACBA Foundation
Object type:
Media
Media:
Single-channel video, colour, sound, 20 min 7 s
Credits:
MACBA Collection. MACBA Foundation
Copyright:
© Andrea Fraser
It has accessibility resources:
No

The MACBA Collection features Catalan, Spanish and international art and, although it includes works from the 1920s onwards, its primary focus is on the period between the 1960s and the present.

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The problem becomes clear, crystal clear: the artist’s canvas becomes a mirror.
Michelangelo Pistoletto