Over the past decade and a half, the loosely defined art collective of Bernadette Corporation has moved from underground fashion line and party promoter, to film producer, to editor and publisher of a variety of magazines, books and novels. It is currently based in New York as a collaborative with three principal members, Bernadette Van-Huy, John Kelsey and Antek Walczak. Challenging contemporary creative identities and consumer politics, the group has time and again subverted the traditional practices of art and art exhibition.
Bernadette Corporation – Only She Could Be Other (2011), courtesy Artists SpaceNow, Artists Space gallery in New York City is hosting the first “career” retrospective of Bernadette Corporation, titled 2000 Wasted Years. Documenting the ongoing influence that the group has made on the world of contemporary art, the show examines its complex set of politics alongside the globally turbulent years of its existence.
Coming to realization in the neo-liberal consumer society of the 1990s, Bernadette Corporation actively appropriated not only the fashion and style of marginalized urban communities, but also the corporate atmosphere and capitalist “winner-take-all” mentality as a parodic commentary on contemporary youth and creative culture. However, the corporation also became a symbolic body of activism against modern capitalism, using the corporate distinction as a way to combat the ruthless efficiency and consumption of the modern consumer economy. The corporation became both form and statement.
Culling work from a variety of solo and group shows, video work, the group’s printed magazine, Made in America, and other creative ventures, 2000 Wasted Years is a superb introduction to the work of Bernadette Corporation, and a jumping off point for the artists’ ongoing adventures into the landscape of the 21st century.
Bernadette Corporation – Made In America (Issue 3) (2001), courtesy Artists Space
The show is on view until December 16th.
— D. Creahan