Biennial Contemporary art

Last Brucennial is ladies only

From the trailer for the last Brucennial

The fourth and final edition of the Bruce High Quality Foundation’s “Brucennial” exhibition (7 March-4 April) will exclusively show work by women artists, according to emails being circulated by the organisers. The Bruces, as the anonymous artists are collectively known, typically source the work included in the show via word of mouth, and rarely turn artists away. So, when the New York artist Elliott Arkin contacted the co-organiser Vito Schnabel’s office about participating in the upcoming event, he was surprised to learn of the new all-woman policy. “There certainly is an inequality in the art world, and it’s a serious issue,” Arkin says. “If this is a tongue-in-cheek response, is that really what they want? When asked via email, the Bruces were cagey: “We're not going to discuss the gender or sex of the artists involved in The Brucennial. As in previous years, the show will consist of a variety of artists exhibiting work across all mediums. It’s not a curated group show, it’s not an anointment ceremony into the art market or a codification of style. The Brucennial is a massive celebration of artists—knowns, unknowns, and known unknowns—the work they make, and the communities they build with each other.” But according to another email sent to artists, the group said that “for The Last Brucennial, we will spotlight all women artists. We see The Last Brucennial as a chance to focus on this crucial energy within the wider community. We won’t focus on this aspect of the exhibition in advertising the show as we think it will speak for itself. But if you have recommendations for other women artists to include, definitely send them our way!” The show is often characterized as an alternative to the coinciding Whitney Biennial (7 March-25 May). But this year’s event, taking place at a commercial building at 837 Washington Street, will be the last. The Bruces plan to refocus their energies on their free East Village art school, the Bruce High Quality Foundation University. “In other words,” the Bruces write, “THIS IS THE BIG ONE! The Grand finale!”

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