The Bruce High Quality Foundation at 1100 Broadway in Bushwick.
The art collective The Bruce High Quality Foundation (BHQF) acts as the official arbiter of the estate of the late social sculptor Bruce High Quality. Committed to Art History, extra-instintutional interventions, and mockery, the BHQF was founded, according to their mission statement, “to foster an alternative to everything.” In this spirit, since their inception eight years ago, the young collective has staged a version of CATS on Broadway (in Bushwick), crashed a golden “feminist wing” bicycle into the Brooklyn Museum’s fountain, auditioned for Jeffrey Deitch’s “Art Star” in a giant foam head puppet, and chased Robert Smithson’s Floating Island around Manhattan with a small boat that looked as if it were using one of Christo’s Gates as a sail. In 2008, in response to Ugo Rondonine’s fervent Hell Yes sculpture on the New Museum, the BHQF unfurled their own more reserved banner, “Heaven Forbid” across the street.
The Foundation’s headquarters is a storefront under the elevated J train in Bushwick. When I visited on a bright Thursday afternoon, I was cordially welcomed into the headquarters, and ushered to a large upholstered chaise lounge in the center of the drawing room. I was greeted by the collective, who sat with their chairs on both sides of me in a circular arrangement. They offered me Royal Dansk cookies and delicate cucumber sandwiches.
We made small talk about consipiracy theories, the Geico lizard, Stravinsky, and the Wozzeck opera. The light was dim and each of their faces was obstructed by smoke from their cigarettes. The core-less foundation is amorphous in size, and as I lounged, an endless stream of members trickled in to join our conversation. Though the BHQF let me be witness to their goings on, they made me take an oath of secrecy, casually showing me their drawer of severed writers’ pinkies as a passive-aggressive warning.
Nevertheless, it is public knowledge that until April 11 the BHQF has an exhibit called “Empire” up at Cueto Project in Chelsea.
In the Empire show, the collective muses and riffs on the psychological and physical atrophy of our own golden age New York. Using Thomas Coles’ allegorical series “The Course of Empire” as a starting point, the exhibit draws upon seemingly unrelated references (Robert Moses’ Urban Planning, Star Wars, the destruction of monumental sculpture, Dynastic burial grounds in China) and makes sense of them in brilliant and unpredictable ways when they re-appear in different contexts.
The timing of this very topical exhibit is, according to the BHQF spokesman, thanks to Google: “We contracted Google to create a complex algorithm for us that patches in the Google News hits, and there is a piece of paper in the basement that is constantly feeding out with the distilled idea of what an art show should be at that exact moment….”
During my visit, while two registrars brought me downstairs to see the climate-controlled archive, I mistakenly left my tape recorder rolling upstairs, where the other foundation members continued to talk without me. When I went home to listen to my recording, I was shocked to hear that the committee had reverted to speaking in art tongues when I was out of earshot. Their incantations were indecipherable, but I can only guess that they were discussing their next project, a zombie attack, which they are working on with CREATIVE TIME. As a preamble to this project, this weekend, BHQF has an installation up at the VOLTA NY art fair (until March 8th). It is security footage of the fair site before the exhibitors were installed, revealing zombies on the grounds.