After visiting the Bernadette Corporation’s retrospective 2000 Wasted Years at New York’s Artists Space twice, and then immersing myself in the texts the show prompts (Mallarmé on fashion, Chris Kraus’s Where Art Belongs, and Bernadette Corp.’s own “authored” novel Reena Spaulings, oh and Baudrillard), I felt like I was really getting it. That feeling of epiphany that someone once told me psilocybin activates (only somewhat denuding the drug for me)—that ding ding ding ding ding eyes-wide alert of ah-ha revelation—I rode that feeling for like a week. Things made sense, or the sense things didn’t make—about New York, about fashion, about capitalism and art—became okay. As I read all of the above and more, and as I wrote The Ecstasy of Communication: Bernadette Corporation and the Poetry of Fashion, this mess of an essay that may be just rightly messy for its subject matter (anarchic), or may just be a mess.
2000 Wasted Years closed at Artists Space the week that essay went up, but it has since reopened, in another time zone, at London’s Institute of Contemporary Arts. ICA’s iteration of the retrospective opened to the public yesterday. You now have just over two months to visit. Which you should do. Because it’s very important. For anyone interested in leftist politics, global action, fashion, art, and/or contemporary culture.
Jason Farago, writing for the Guardian, published a very comprehensible piece on the Bernadette Corporation, proving that you can write about the collective—the Bernadette Corporation is a New York originating art/fashion/activism collective, by the way—in a way that’s not a holy mess. Thanks for that, Jason. And thanks to the ICA for putting the show on again, and for this “Bernadette Corporation Reading List,” which includes four titles I haven’t read yet, like the Rihanna Annual 2013, “everything you need to know about the singer and style icon Princess RiRi.”
Bernadette Corporation: 2000 Wasted Years runs from March 27th through June 9th, 2013 at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London.