Bernadette Corporation

Faucet (sexy as fk (Trébuchet)), 2013

Dornbracht emote wall-mounted infrared basin mixer with mixing button with 2 sandblast etchings and 1 hand engraving

18 × 25 × 160 cm


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Additional Information

Accompanied by a certificate of authenticity.

photo credit: Florian Kleinefenn

Artwork
Description

Bernadette Corporation has been operating as a fictional company since 1994. Working from behind the black façade of its logo, core members (John Kelsey, Antek Walzcak and Bernadette van Huy) frequently reorganize their internal structure, collaborating with others. They continually recast themselves in different guises, often working at the borders of art and fashion. There is a slipperiness of intent suggested by Bernadette Corporation’s mock incorporation and branding strategies – as it has been suggested by the artists: a corporation was ‘the perfect way to alienate alternative politically-correct types’. The collective engages in strategies of quotation, fiction, appropriation, provocation, and hoax, and undermines the political autonomy of anti-artistic postures with satirically crass commercialism.

Here resisting the domestication of their multi-disciplinary practice by the forces of art-historical and market legitimation, the BC (the group’s preferred corporate-speak acronym) play literally on the sleek designs of chrome bathroom fittings – taps, handles, jets and shower-heads – found in upmarket homes. For an exhibition entitled ‘A Haven for the Soul’, a series of these pieces were displayed on plinths and shelves, or built directly into the walls of the gallery space. Each was monogrammed ‘BC’ and engraved with anonymous comments taken from the Internet in response to a series of leaked nude mobile-phone photographs of the pop star Rihanna. The works act in the space of metaphorical and textual slippage between notions of clean and dirty, and the process of ablution. The comments on Rihanna are illiterate and juvenile, rendered in the language of blogging. As was noted at the time, they are also dirty in both senses of the word, scatological and sexual: ‘(12 May 2009) I want to see her shit in my face.’ Objects used for the cleansing of bodies become objects that are themselves rendered clean – and saleable – by the forces of the white cube gallery. Removed from the studio (or kitchen showroom), ‘art’-ified and made ready for sale, Faucet (sexy as fk (Trébuchet)) is a sharp commentary on the anonymity and effacement of identity made possible by both the art gallery and the Internet, and, in turn, their mode of collective practice.

This layered meaning of the work, however, takes on another level of signification when seen with The BC’s corresponding video work, The Earth’s Tarry Dreams of Insurrection Against the Sun, 2010 – created from news footage relating to the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The plumbing accessories function as an obvious visual metaphor of this so-called ‘plumbing’ disaster – the result man’s attempt to domesticate the untameable depths of the natural world.

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.”


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.


Bernadette Corporation
on Artuner

Part of the
exhibition