This is an archive of the ArtCat Zine, 2007-2009. Please visit our new project, IDIOM.
Cats on Broadway
BRUCE HIGH QUALITY FOUNDATION
The BHQF Theatre – 1100 Broadway, Brooklyn NY
9pm 13, 14, 15 December 2007
5pm 16 December 2007
Anonymous, shadowy New York-based collective Bruce High Quality Foundation (self-proclaimed estate arbiters of late, fictional social sculptor Bruce High Quality) present Cats on Broadway, a four day theatre performance on the border of two quickly gentrifying Brooklyn neighborhoods. The performance follows the group's latest work at Exit Art which came down mid-November: Beyond Pastoral, a fifth-scale model of a BP gas station with working lights powered by some several hundred lemons and limes left to rot on the gallery floor, arranged in a glorious BP helios and feeding electrolytes to the gas station lights via a potato-clock like mechanism. The piece's accompanying wall-text was a pastiche of pop culture and historic references that elliptically discoursed on the work's narrative concerns — something of an ambient story about a developing power capacity and need, a new school of corporate environmentally-concerned posturing, a colonial etymology of the two fruit varieties powering the installation, and a mélange of historical facts and pseudo-scientific assertions. While the points hit on come across a little strong at times, the work certainly didn't suffer from the spare, poetic text which provides as much a framework for the piece as a challenge to the more straightforward and literal quality of the material installation.
Likewise, the Cats... website promoting the latest Bruce High Quality efforts features two short texts about a Great Depression-era Harlem race riot and Voodoo Macbeth — a federally funded, Orson Welles directed, postcolonial adaptation of Shakespeare's Macbeth set in Haiti and performed by an all-black Harlem cast that was organized just a year after the cited riot. Evoking the questionable play to contextualize their own contemporary production, BHQF seems to operate in a mode of an ironic traipsing around social issues while remaining politically invested in... something. The faux American Apperal ads plastered across the website communicate the usual Foundation tactic of an appropriation of forms (commercial in this case) as we see wayward twenty-somethings revel in feel-good monochrome designs that signal a new era of abstracted branding — a clothing line identifiable without a logo, but ubiquitous in its aggressive advertising to transplanted, jet-setting urban youth, the harbingers of gentrification. What better symbol with which to pair this corporate giant than Cats..., the commercially tremendous Broadway musical turned tourist trap that lasted for some 18 years, and ran parallel with corporate and municipal efforts to “clean up Broadway” for big business? BHQF's Cats on Broadway will be a series of musical vignettes structured around “original arrangement of a popular song performed by the Bruce High Quality Orchestra to situate a different character in the neighborhood (shopkeeper, minister, hoodlum, college student, prostitute, etc.) contextualizing their individual circumstances within themes of nostalgia, rage, sex, family, labor, redemption, etc.”