The Bruce High Quality Foundation
Ways to Die
The collective BHQF (est. 2001) has a serious mission: to save art history from self-seriousness. Since 2004, anonymous members have irreverently reprised art conventions to critique their fetishization. In this salon-style hanging, the trope of memento mori is repeatedly defaced, says Bruce, to “mockingly memorialize our own collective handwringing in the face of death.” Titled Ways to Die, it marks the end of BHQF University, and honors one of “the Bruces,” Noah Davis (1983-2015).
About the Artist
The Bruce High Quality Foundation (New York) was formed on September 11th, 2001 in retaliation against Adorno's dictum "There can be no poetry after Auschwitz." Made up of an ever-changing group of artists, the collective collapses the false distinction between mockery and activism, simultaneously satirizing the utopianism of community-building while building communities around satire.
Favorite targets have included the artist as celebrity (The Life and Death of Bruce High Quality, 2005), the institutionalization of public art 'interventions' (The Gate, 2005), the ambivalent role of artists in urban gentrification (Cats on Broadway, 2007), nostalgia for artistic radicalism (Isle of the Dead, 2009), the prospecting culture of biennials (The Brucennial 2009, 2010, 2012, 2014), the hagiography of museum exhibitions (The Retrospective 2009, 2010, 2013) the commercialization of museum collections (The Greek and Roman Collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2013 - present), the artist as laborer (95 Theses: Art History with Labor, 2012) and the capitalistic orientation of MFA programs (BHQFU, 2009-2017).
Recent projects include As We Lay Dying (Watermill Center, 2016), Pearls (Pippy Houldsworth Gallery, London 2017), Portraits of the Artist as a Young Bruce (Thomas Ammann Fine Art, Zurich 2017) and The Second Coming (Leila Heller Gallery, Dubai 2017).
Despite or because of its disestablishmentarian leanings, the Foundation has been included in The Whitney Biennial (2010), Greater New York (2010), the Lyon Bienniale (2013), held a retrospective at The Brooklyn Museum (2013), and has works in major public and private collections the world over. So goes it.