“Bernadette Corporation” is not so much a clearly defined artists’ group as it is a group with changing members, operating from within the art world and formulating its concerns from exactly this unclear starting point. In the beginning, the Corporation’s activities consisted mainly of organising and hosting events for the art world. Parties and other services were organised, and questioned on a conceptual level the interdependence of art processes and their surrounding economic conditions. After that came an excursion into the worlds of fashion and the catwalk, complete with collections and media-friendly visibility campaigns, and a publishing venture. Through all of this, the Corporation was playing with its image, presenting itself as a company and imitating (pragmatically as well as conceptually) late capitalist forms of work and visibility. Patterns of artistic identity are always more than simply individual conditions because they refer back to their underlying premises as imposed by society. Simultaneously though, they are thus also the possible starting point from which to question and undermine these very conditions.

Beyond the irony of earlier works, the Corporation addressed exactly these questions in their 2002 film Get Rid of Yourself, which juxtaposed their own collective re-invention of the artistic self with the statements of political activists from the anti-globalisation movement’s black bloc. In the context of the anti-G8 protests in Genoa, the black bloc appears less as a political entity than as a collective that programmatically goes beyond responsible individuality and actualises a revolutionary notion of ungraspable subjectivity instead. Get rid of yourself is the Bernadette Corporation’s film about the autonomist movement only insofar as it is also a film about the Corporation itself. For both, ‘getting rid of yourself’ is not only a starting point but also the aim of a radical form of resistant activity.

In contrast to the autonomists of political protest, Bernadette Corporation demonstrates how this refusal of a fixed and thus assessable identity can suspend even the visible difference of the surrounding system in order to turn virtually invisible and generate new possibilities of action from exactly this condition. The film stages a problematic proximity that goes beyond strategic mimicry and claims anti-essentialist group dynamics as model of an irrecuperable difference programmatically outside of official accountabilities. The fact that the Corporation has just published a collectively written novel, turns a traditionally ‘private’ medium into a collective one that refuses to legitimise itself through the accounts of individual contributions. Instead it insists on the possibility of collective utterances to generate deviating dynamics, and to prolong these beyond prescribed artistic models.

By Edgar Schmitz


"Get Rid of Yourself"
(2003) (Production Still)