Andrea Fraser

The Whitney Museum is currently featuring Andrea Fraser's take on the expanse of 18,200 square feet that makes up the fifth floor. The exhibit, called Open Plan, will feature four other artists in the coming months. Fraser's version of Open Plan is called "Down the River." It explores the reality that 32 miles north of New York City, in the town of Ossining, sits Sing Sing: a maximum security prison on the Hudson River. The experience of being in the new location of The Whitney, is exceedingly impressive. The clouds and the sun and the shadows emphasize the space itself: it's profound and empty. But the sounds of the prison play on a constant soundtrack; to the point that you can't stay maybe as long as you'd like to. There's an uncontrollable eagerness to move along: to escape outdoors. In her statement, Fraser notes that since the 1970's, both museums and prisons have experienced a boom of expansion. Museums have seen ten times more attendance, while prison populations have grown by 700 percent. Fraser says: 

Beyond this parallel growth, museums, and in particular art museums, would seem to share nothing with prisons. Art museums celebrate freedom and showcase invention. Prisons revoke freedom and punish transgression. Art museums collect and exhibit valued objects. Prisons confine vilified people. Art museums are designed by renowned architects as centerpieces of urban development. Prisons are built far from affluent urban areas, becoming all but invisible to those not directly touched by incarceration.