On March 7, the fifth and final installment of the New York art collective Bruce High Quality Foundation’s Brucennial show opened to the public at 837 Washington Street in the Meatpacking District. “The Last Brucennial” features the work of an all-female group of over 600 artists and will run until April 4. Each year, the Brucennial has been purposely scheduled to coincide with and parody the Whitney Biennial exhibition. Rather than a meticulously curated show like the Whitney’s Biennial, the Brucennial is a messy, sprawling assemblage of paintings, sculpture, photography, and more from a wide variety of artists.
Originally located in Brooklyn’s Bed-Stuy neighborhood, the Brucennial has grown steadily from its humble beginnings, now commanding large audiences and significant media attention (the show’s opening was completely full; viewers packed the show’s rowdy atmosphere with free T shirts and plentiful beer for all). It’s art anarchy, a curated chaos, and a maximalist monstrosity that you shouldn’t miss.
The show, ironically just across the street from an expansion of the Whitney called the Whitney Museum of American Art, features exclusively female artists reportedly in protest to the lack of diversity of the Whitney Biennial. In an email to the New York Observer, the Bruce High Quality Foundation said that “we’re not going to discuss the gender or sex of the artists involved in the Brucennial.”
“The Last Brucennial” is held in a roughly 10,000 square-foot space divided into several rooms with art arranged from floor to ceiling in what appears to be no particular order. Abstract paintings hang packed in next to colorful mounted sculptures and photographs; audio-visual installations chirp and groan intermittently depending on which room or hall you stand; art lies on the walls, the floor and the ceiling. There’s a six-pointed star made of bacon by Chloe Wise, a series of portraits of Phillip Seymour Hoffman by Danielle Ho, a Pussy-Riot-esque baclava on a mannequin head made by Hanna Linden. The sheer volume and breadth of work on display is impressive and overwhelming.
The show features over 600 artists from around the world, with the work of celebrated artists like Barbara Kruger and Marina Abramovic exhibited along the work of completely unknown artists. As the Bruce High Quality Foundation’s Website declares, “It’s not a curated group show or an anointment ceremony into the art market or a’“taking of the temperature’ or a codification of style. It’s a celebration of, and catalyst for, an ever-widening community of artists.”
When the final iteration of the Brucennial has closed, the Bruce High Quality Foundation will reportedly return to focusing on their (non-accredited) art school, the Bruce High Quality Foundation University, expanding class offerings and residencies, building a communal studio program and creating student exhibitions, publication and other showcases.
It’s a shame that a show as unique as the Brucennial had to end, but at least see it before it closes in a month or so (after all, it’s free!). As the show’s website puts it, “So this is it. The grand finale. The coup de grâce. The Last Brucennial. It’s going to be amazing.”
[Images via author]