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Posted by on January 1, 2010

The Bruce High Quality's Foundation, "The Bruce High Quality Foundation University"

An artist collective kicks it new-school

The Bruce High Quality's Foundation,
Photo: What Happens in the Art World Stays in the Art World

Written by Michael Wilson on January 1, 2010 for Time Out New York

Roughly coinciding with this year’s crop of M.F.A. thesis exhibitions at New York’s art schools, this teasing show is an apparent attempt to pull the rug from under the whole enterprise of serious art “education”—or at least to cast playful doubt on its ingrained attitudes, structures and methods.

The Bruce High Quality Foundation, as readers familiar with recent public projects by umbrella organization Creative Time may be aware, is a shadowy artist collective espousing a credo of strategic amateurism, aimed at subverting the dominant pedagogy that its members regard as stultifyingly market-driven. The BHQF’s own “university,” by contrast, is a loose-knit (perhaps wholly fictional) institution that promises to impart useful know-how in “metaphor manipulation” and “occult shenanigans,” rather than How to Deal with Your Dealer 101.

The end of the university’s first “semester” (ironic quotation marks may be assumed to enclose everything here) is represented mostly by a selection of sculptures in the form of chalkboards. Scrawled with knowing aphorisms, these are also accessorized with sundry “retirables”—found objects ranging from examples of John Dewey’s writings on education and L. Ron Hubbard’s Dianetics to plastic figurines and party poppers. In What Happens in the Art World Stays in the Art World, a noose is set swinging by an electric massager, while the theme from 2001: A Space Odyssey emanates from a polyhedral capsule in the center of the room. Such heterogeneity aside, in-jokes and self-references are the true mediums here, and their results edify and alienate in equal measure.