Bruce High Quality Foundation Bachelors of Avignon*
Bruce High Quality Foundation Joseph Beuys, from the "Sculpture Tackle" series
In spite of some serious temptations which might have gotten ourselves to Bushwick weeks ago Barry and I didn't get to the Bruce High Quality Foundation installation in the group's large storefront on Broadway until this past Monday. Energetic and creative young artists doing funny things, bouncing off every manner of cultural icon or shibboleth along the way. What's not to love? The words "irreverent" and "political" should be in there somewhere. I'm on it. Only sorry that it took me so long.
On the homepage of the three-year-old collaborative's website there's a motto which reads: "Professional Challenges. Amateur Solutions". And for a description of mission there's this: "The Bruce High Quality Foundation was created to foster an alternative to everything"
An incomplete list of their projects, past, present or continuing, but arranged in no particular order, may explain a little more. You might have already come across one or more of these but not not been able to make out the infectious pattern:
- local waters smallcraft pursuit of Robert Smithson's Floating Island by one of the Cristo's saffron "Gates"
- a film centered on the Art Basel Miami trade show, conjuring both Marx and Jean-Luc Godard
- a commemoration of 100 years of Picasso's "Les Demoiselles d'Avignon" with artists' living sculpture [image above was not manipulated]
- a series of "sculpture tackle" performances around the city complete with target-specific costumes
- a WTC ground zero hero fast food concession cart intervention offering customers a "Manwich"
- an audition for Jeffrey Deitch's Artstar reality television show by Bruce High Quality himself
- a construction of a full-size soapbox derby car for a run down the Guggenheim's spiral ramp
- a bike fountain for Brooklyn Museum's Feminist wing with its own gold wing, broken wheel, faucet seat and wire laundry basket
- a steaming midsummer hot-chocolate break by bundled-up skiers and snowboarders at the Roosevelt Island gondola terminal
- a living sculpture riff on Géricault's "The Wreck of the Medusa" below the Williamsburg Bridge
Still, you probably have to have been to the studio or been witness to at least one of the projects, or else done some traipsing through the links or their own site, YouTube or elsewhere to fill out the picture enough to penetrate the enigma of BHQF. I was the perfect fan candidate, and it took a while even for me to get it (I'm not sure what I would have been able to make of Picasso's first leaps into cubism without being able to go to the internet back in 1907).
The exhibition is titled "RENT STRIKE! & Other Activist Jingles from the Crypt of Bruce High Quality" and I'm told it can still be visited by appointment through the end of this week. Email the studio at firstname.lastname@example.org, but if you end up missing this show, I'm sure there will be plenty of excitement going forward; it doesn't look like they're going to disappear.
I was interested in knowing something about the people within the group, including their rough numbers, and I did suspect they would be rough, so I asked a member to tell me more. I learned that just now most are guys, and I was told that five of them currently share the Brooklyn studio. "Bruce" then continued:
But we are always trying to cast a wider net, and steer clear of core membership. Our thinking about the Bruce High Quality Foundation has revolved more around growing it up and getting it to a level where it totally dwarfs our individual efforts than the Beatles model. We would like there to be offices all over the world, outposts for the Bruce High Quality Foundation, and maybe people to take over the operations for us when we all die. I would say the Bruce High Quality Foundation numbers between 5 and 5000. It should be more like a movement than a rock band.
the original, whose birthday is celebrated this year, belongs to MoMA:
The images at the top of this post, of photographs framed and on the walls in the current installation, are JPEGS furnished by Bruce High Quality. I was able to capture a few shots of my own while we were there on Monday, and I'm arranging them here as large thumbnails: