The Bruce High Quality Foundation: ‘Empire’


Among the satirists of art and culture regularly roaming the city, the six Cooper Union grads who call themselves the Bruce High Quality Foundation lay claim to some of the sharper pokes in the Establishment’s eye. Most notoriously, they pursued Robert Smithson’s overhyped “Floating Island” on a skiff, which displayed a miniature version of Christo’s overhyped orange drapery.

Now, they’re riffing on utopian visions of New York. Or so they say. It’s all a little unclear, even for these master mockers of art-speak convolution. A rough 3-D model of the city sits on a giant, mocked-up pizza. Plaster casts of ATMs, arranged in a phalanx, stand before an enlarged photo showing members of the group dressed as the homeless and encamped on Robert Moses’s massive New York panorama. The best piece is a faux documentary on the notions of empire, which is narrated, it seems, by a historian on mescaline. If the humor sounds weak, it’s not much better in person. The effort feels like the product of a late-night bull session that never really gelled. But, hey, for comedians, the occasional dud freshens the edge. I’m still cheering for Bruce.

Tuesdays-Saturdays, 10 a.m. Starts: Feb. 25. Continues through April 11, 2009