Bernadette Corporation is an art collective based in New York City consisting of Bernadette Van-Huy, John Kelsey and Jim Fletcher.
During the summer of 1994, Van-Huy was approached to host a night at Club USA, for which she assembled a group of friends and collaborators. Although the party itself was short-lived, the collective endured — expanding into fashion, magazine publishing, film, writing and fine art.
From its outset, Bernadette Corporation sought to both incorporate and subvert the commercial aesthetics and strategies emerging in mid-90s art and fashion spaces. Simply calling themselves a corporation was both a joke and a critical position. "It was an anti-art stance, to embrace this kind of crass commercialism,” Van-Huy has said. “Doing something in a gallery seemed so rarefied and serious. Exclusive, too. We just preferred to speak in a common language and in a form that was more stupid."
Between 1995 and 1997, Bernadette Corporation developed a fashion label. Conceptually, the line was a vehicle to prod at the industry from the inside. Recognizing the fashion system’s appropriation of subcultures, Bernadette Corporation responded with a language that made these codes of class and ethnicity explicit. They cast models they found in the Yellow Pages, incorporated Chinatown knockoffs on their runways and produced fashion editorial of robbers in BC logos (a nod to the Ralph Lauren-thieving Lo-Lifes)
Ironically, Bernadette Corporation was embraced by the industry it satirized – the work started appearing in i-D, The New York Times, Harper’s Bazaar and Purple. This ongoing dialogue with magazines ushered Bernadette Corporation into producing their own, Made in USA, between 1999 and 2001.
In 2001, Bernadette Corporation shifted from fashion and publishing, following the antiglobalization protests that erupted during the G8 summit in Genoa, and shortly after, the events of 9/11. They produced an experimental documentary, 2003’s Get Rid of Yourself, by combining footage of G8 riots with performances by Chloe Sevigny, Werner von Delmont and members of the Black Bloc anarchist organization. “There were similarities between their strategies and ours – anonymity and collective production or collective work,” Kelsey has said of Tiqqun, a militant anarchist group he’d met in Paris. “It was a joke to do a merger between our company and the anarchists, but we were actually collaborating.” This collaborative filmmaking led to Reena Spaulings, Bernadette Corporation’s 2005 novel. The book was authored by 150 anonymous contributors, including many non-writers and non-English speakers.
Taken together, Bernadette Corporation’s work, in all its varied forms, is deeply social. Like all good scenes — a compelling mix of rumor, pastiche, parody, experiment, and community.
Supreme has worked with Bernadette Corporation on a new collection for Spring 2023. The collection consists of a Track Jacket, S/S Work Shirt, Raglan Top, Soccer Top, Track Pant, Chino Pant, Work Short, two T-Shirts, 6-Panel, Nipple Clamps, Mini Towel and Spalding® Basketball.
Available May 18th.
Available in Japan May 20th.