Bennett Simpson

  • Bernadette Corporation with Benjamin Alexander Huseby and Avena Gallagher, BC Reloaded (detail), 2012, color photograph, dimensions variable.

    “Bernadette Corporation: 2000 Wasted Years”

    No doubt the just-past of the ’90s underground will seem very now, though Bernadette Corporation’s knack for late-capitalist tones and tremors should forestall both nostalgia and political kitsch.

    In the eighteen years since Bernadette Corporation emerged from New York’s downtown fashion and art scenes, there have been moments when the collective has seemed the sharpest and most conceptually ambitious expression of its age. Artists Space is now producing a BC “retrospective” in typical restyled form, encompassing a new photo shoot along with relics from the group’s early fashion line, cine-tracts like Get Rid of Yourself (2003), pages from the short-lived magazine Made in USA (2000–2001), and more recent forays into poetry and sculpture—all

  • Rodney McMillian, untitled, 2010, vinyl, thread, 14' x 27' 6" x 2'. Photo: Robert Wedemeyer.


    THE YAWNING, CAVELIKE BLACK SPACE was both empty and full. What was it empty of? What filled it? When I stood before Rodney McMillian’s “room” installation, the first he has made, last year at Susanne Vielmetter in Culver City, I remember I had already been suggested toward an image of bodily passage by a giant, stitched-together relief “painting” of a fractured asshole in the main gallery. The untitled installation before me was composed of patches of vinyl, subtly graded in shades of black and textured surface to form a supple mosaic, roughly but deliberately hand-sewn in thick black thread,

  • David Grubbs and Susan Howe, Thiefth, 2005. Performance view, The Kitchen, New York, 2005.

    David Grubbs and Susan Howe

    IN MY OWN TAKE on the Grand Tour, I spent the summer sunburned in Los Angeles, reading poetry. The circulation of names and artworks and overpoliced critical shibboleths (see Texte zur Kunst’s recent “Short Guide” for choice examples) that elsewhere engulfed art in a fog of values, cynical or otherwise, fell gracefully away from the literary will-o’-the-wisps I followed for relief. Brightest among these was Souls of the Labadie Tract (Blue Chopsticks, 2007), the second collaboration, after Thiefth, 2005, between musician David Grubbs and poet Susan Howe. For a certain audience, this recording


    I CAN’T BE ALONE IN FINDING A GREAT DEAL OF AFFECT IN THE PHOTOGRAPHS OF CHRISTOPHER WILLIAMS. This is dangerous to say, since affect in photography generally hews to subject matter—the pained look of a face, the pleasure or poignancy in a gesture—and it tends to be obvious, the easiest thing there is. Williams’s most recent project, “For Example: Dix-Huit Leçons Sur La Société Industrielle,” is neither easy nor obvious. Its images bear no consistent theme, no singular style or technique, none of the normal signposts of a photographic body of work. Many of the photographs depict icons of

  • Bernadette Corporation, Get Rid of Yourself, 2002, still from a color digital video, 70 minutes.

    Techniques of Today: Bernadette Corporation

    IT IS THE SUMMER OF 2001, AND THE New York– and Paris-based collective known as Bernadette Corporation has temporarily merged with Le Parti Imaginaire, a faction of post-Situationist militants and intellectuals with links to the burgeoning antiglobalization movement. The two groups have their own distinct practices and motivations, but, for the moment, they are united by the idea of making a film, which is to be set in the seaside Italian city of Genoa, amid the protests and stultifying inconclusiveness that will engulf the G8 Summit that July. The film resists knowing what it is or wants to


    Anyone who knows (and who doesn’t?) Matthew Barney’s recently concluded Cremaster cycle, with its baroque symbolic systems and rituals of performance, should be at least partially primed for De Lama Lâmina (From Mud, a Blade), a collaboration between the artist and American-Brazilian musician Arto Lindsay for this year’s Carnival in the Bahian city of Salvador. Staged as a performance but scripted and filmed for possible future exhibition, the work is intriguing, not in the least because Barney’s identification with the Cremaster films has been so extreme, a decade-long realigning of art production

  • Left: Cosima von Bonin, Alles Roger Commander, 2001, still from a color video, 60 minutes. Right: Art & Language and the Red Krayola, Nine Gross and Conspicuous Errors, 1975, still from a black-and-white video, 25 minutes. Christine Kozlov, Kathryn Bigelow, and Paula Ramsden.

    Bennett Simpson on art and pop music

    DO YOU WANT NEW WAVE, or do you want the truth? So asked the punk band Minutemen in 1984—and the verdict is still out, especially in art. The prominence of pop music in recent art, from rock and punk to noise, techno, and hip-hop, is one of the most ambiguous developments of the past five years. Music figures centrally in the practices of significant and established contemporary artists such as Stephen Prina, Mike Kelley, and Rodney Graham. It is a conspicuous influence for artists otherwise as disparate as Elizabeth Peyton, Jeremy Blake, and Nick Relph and Oliver Payne. It is employed as

  • Nicolas Bourriaud

    FOR EVIDENCE OF ART’S recent love affair with “interactivity” and “connectivlty,” one need look no further than the pair of digital art surveys currently playing at the Whitney Museum of American Art and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. For less literal proof, however, one might consider the recent appointment of Nicolas Bourriaud as codirector, with Jérôme Sans, of the newly created Palais de Tokyo contemporary art center in Paris. As a young critic in the ’90s Bourriaud offered one of the earliest readings of the emergent metaphors of artistic production engendered by information culture.