Bernadette Corporation

Their history is one of collaboration and community; starting with organising parties in  New York, they quickly moved on to becoming a popular cult fashion label aiming to expose fashion industry’s appropriation of countercultures by  “emulating a corporate image through ‘joke’ forms of business that are serious” as they put it themselves.

Following the events of 9/11, the Bernadette Corporation moved in a radically different direction. It appeared that fashion was no longer an adequate vehicle to satirize and critique society, it was an embodiment of a pre-9/11 sentiment.

About
the artist

Bernadette Corporation is an art collective founded in 1994. The group's participants have changed over the years but its core members include Bernadette van Huy, Antek Walzcak and John Kelsey.

Their history is one of collaboration and community; starting with organising parties in  New York, they quickly moved on to becoming a popular cult fashion label aiming to expose fashion industry's appropriation of countercultures by  "emulating a corporate image through 'joke' forms of business that are serious" as they put it themselves. They also published a magazine named Made in USA named after the homonymous Jean-Luc Godard film.

 Throughout these enterprises the Bernadette Corporation expressed a proclivity for taking an anti-art stance in which they explored the impossibility for artistic autonomy within the capitalistic framework. Their work embraced the esoteric vocabulary of the system, negating the traditional conflict between the corporate and the creative. It was defined by an amalgamation of popular culture, brand identity and commodity coupled with high thought conceptualism. There is an opposition to the apparent human propensity to compartmentalise “stuff.” This is summed up in their early mission statement: "Mock incorporation is quick and easy," they wrote, "no registration or fees, simply choose a name (i.e., Booty Corporation, Bourgeois Corporation, Buns Corporation) and spend a lot of time together. Ideas will come later." The existence of The BC precedes its essence; it is about individuals coming together creating an intellectual commune, in which people can melt into a brand.

Taking capitalist vernacular as a starting point for artistic exploration, the Bernadette Corporation allows its members a mutable existence as a corporate personhood. Its members become part of a multi-perspectival unity that is able to undergo radical change and remain unaltered. In such a sense the corporation is able to challenge the fixity of artistic identity. Furthermore, this personless approach to artistic creation enables the corporation to be truly transatlantic and to produce uniquely diverse and often communalistic works, spanning media including fashion, video and novels.

Following the events of 9/11, the Bernadette Corporation moved in a radically different direction. It appeared that fashion was no longer an adequate vehicle to satirize and critique society, it was an embodiment of a pre-9/11 sentiment. The work that followed was much more direct in its approach to society. Get Rid of Yourself was a documentary exploring the nature of activism in the current social climate and shortly after they produced a collective novel, exploring the nature and structure of the modern city. This work sums up much of the work and motivation of the Bernadette Corporation; “It is writing for everybody, by nobody, an overcrowded literary graveyard whose zombie author is called Bernadette Corporation.”

Bernadette Corporation
on Artuner