Bernadette Corporation – Films


6 Apr – 20 May 2012

“It’s an everyday group hallucination.”

It is said that Bernadette Corporation were founded in a nightclub in 1994. Hired to attract attractive young people to parties and events, they soon became more interested in organising spontaneous, purposeless events in public space.

From 1995 to 2005, they worked under the guise of a fashion label (BC), directed an art magazine (Made in USA) and published widely, including the multi-author novel Reena Spaulings (Semiotexte).

During this period - further emphasising their slippery project of cultural displacement and détournement - Bernadette Corporation produced a number of key film works, all of which are on display in this exhibition.



Bernadette Corporation: Fashion Shows 

1995-97, 06:20, colour, sound

From 1995 to 1997, Bernadette Corporation constituted itself as an underground fashion label based in New York, complete with a head designer and four well-received runway shows. Drawing on the vernacular of local subcultures, from recent immigrant communities to the downtown fashion scene itself, the label's collections can be seen as a self-consciously critical examination of social codes and their expression through industrial nexuses of power and money. The shows themselves, which are documented on this video as "a condensed history of anti-fashion," send up the spectacular nature of the fashion industry, incorporating such trappings as bear-costumed mascots, troupes of high-school dancers, and jets of fire.


The B.C. Corporate Story 

1996. 07:03, colour, sound

This video examines the sorts of propaganda that a corporation might distribute internally to communicate an over-arching mandate or vision to its workers in order to boost morale. Bernadette Corporation slyly turns the notion inside out, yielding a document that at once subverts and expresses the form. Write the artists: "An early self-portrait of Bernadette Corporation and an in-house film whose purpose was to inspire and motivate members of the New York-base artist collective cum underground fashion label. Corporate propaganda for a subculture-obsessed youth market."


Hell Frozen Over 

2000, 19:22, colour, sound

Bernadette Corporation describes this work as "A fashion film about the poetry of Stéphane Mallarmé and the color white." Produced for the 2000 Walker Art Center exhibition Let's Entertain, this short film employs a range of strategies to approach the idea of nothingness, emptiness, and vacuity, with an eye to how these notions relate to contemporary mass-cultural entertainment. Juxtaposing "documentary" takes on a fashion shoot with footage of semiologist Sylvère Lotringer giving an impromptu lecture on Mallarmé on a frozen lake, Hell Frozen Over maintains an ambiguous stance from which to both critique and celebrate the power of surface.

With: Sylvere Lotringer, Bianca (New York Models), Arielle (Next). Voice-overs: Liz Bougatsos, Colin DeLand. Hair: Rick Radone. Make-up: Yuko Mizuno. Clothes: Vikor & Rolf, Andre Walker, Seth Shapiro. Music: Ben Williams, The Beatles, Kippenberger, Mozart, Cat Stevens, Schubert. Video Editing Equipment/Software: The Bohen Foundation.


Get Rid of Yourself
2003, 61 min, colour, sound

This complex, multi-layered work, called an "anti-documentary" by its authors, combines footage of rioting at the 2001 G-8 summit in Genoa with performances by Chloe Sevigny, Werner von Delmont and members of the Black Bloc anarchist group. These elements yield a disorienting and critical video that ultimately questions its own status and role as much as that of its subjects. The artists write that Get Rid of Yourself functions as "a cine-tract that aligns itself with nascent forms of political resistance within the anti-globalization movement... a filmed essay that works by betraying its own form." Made with the support of The French Ministry of Culture, Delegation aux Arts Plastiques (Image/Movement); Colin De Land, American Fine Arts, Co; MASSPOP.

Bernadette Corporation website