Frank Wasser

Frank Wasser is an artist and a writer. He graduated from his BA in 2009, and come to London in 2012. Much of Wasser’s work comes from the studio, including that of his current work of a featurelands scripts with a provisional title of ‘Hollyhead’. This is on stereotypical characters who are trying to get back to Ireland and highlights some of the things that caused himself to leave Ireland. Wasser has a particular obsession with trademarks and logos, with lead his on to some of his first works with Jurassic Park. His current obsession is with that of nostalgia.
The texts that Wasser writes are often in the view of another, and one particular one that was read to us was from the viewpoint of a professor. This stemmed from a photograph that was taken when Wasser was nine years old, holding a Jurassic Park poster. “Captialism, made Jurassic Park from an idea in one guys head to a book to a film…” and Jurassic Park should have a place in the museum of capitalism. Wasser writes that we see the flees how the want  us to see them. Through this written piece, and the eyes of a professor, he compares Jurassic Park to capitalism, and quickly boils everything down to a monetary transaction, even if the work [in the film] does not create anything of monetary value. The show that which these were in also went into specifics of a conversation of the target audience and creates a template for later work and ideas.
During 2009 to around 2014, Wasser used many decoys within his work. These take the form of texts on the wall, which first came into play in the final year of his BA. The use of decoys started here because the fees for the university were changing from 800 to 2500 euros each. Wasser would simply occupy space through magazines and newspapers in order to get the words across. Through this, Wasser became more interested in the institution that he was in, with a corrupted director and unnecessary thesis rules. This happened all alongside protests.
Within the institution that Wasser was in, Gerhard Richter was almost a God in the art department and Wasser invited people to attend a tea and biscuits chat in order to talk about the life and works of him, which turned out to be a protest to his work instead. From this, Wassers’ degree show space became the wall of correspondence between the art director and himself, discussing why the students weren’t getting money to paint the floors and walls. By the end of his degree, Wasser was looking into corruption.
MFA came around and Wasser quickly looked into properties that were being rented by the university for sometimes, no apparent reasons. There were also talks about moving the university, which would have a devastating effect on the resources and placement that the university had. While protests went on, Wasser worked with communities in the area, and these groups are the type that would not often work with those who understood the situations of Ireland. He began to work here but this wasn’t really his practice, until those in the communities wanted to help with what he was doing, moving Wasser onto text.
A quick note during the middle of the artist talk was that Wasser does not document any of his work, but rather takes the photographs and videos from others and paraphrases these to create presentations like these. This is much like the documentation on ‘Exhibition continues this way’, which looks at how there was not enough space in the galleries or university. A solution Wasser would always find would be a trigger text piece, and then perform with this.
Novel works and screenplays that were never meant to be turned into film is also part of Wassers’ practice, and these were always particularly dry. This work would be done alongside workshops with schools and teachers, including those at the Tate Modern which tried to outline some of his ideas, especially through children. All the artists that were involved with this were invited to do an exhibition at the Tate. These artists almost felt pressured to do a good job because not only was it an exhibition, but also because it was being held at the Tate. Through this, he found that he was often asked to do pieces again and again and some of his text pieces are permanently on display.
Wasser also does performance work including that of ‘The slow cancellation of the…’ which is perspective of the child and himself of the Jurassic Park piece, mentioned at the beginning of the talk. This was intended to be in a gallery, but ended up being shown in a pub.
Unexpectedly, the whole of the presentation was a performance. The whole way through, we were being shown a video with distractions, such as Teresa May coughing, and being dry when talking about works. Wasser then appropriated institutional documentation of his work, in order to show them as damaged objects. His performances are also normally  on a one to one basis, and so for him, it was strange performing in front of a group. The sound at the end, when it was revealed that this was a performance, became very overwhelming (although this was unintentionally very loud). Overlaying the images became almost violent, this being highlighted by the use of red, black and greys.
Even though the beginning of the performance/presentation was supposed to be very dry, I found myself to be very engaged with his work and his practice. When it was revealed that the presentation was a performance, some parts made sense to me, and others were revealed. It was a very clever way of showing his work, without staying within the norm, and I enjoyed this.

Leave a Reply

Subscribe for the latest art updates in my newsletter