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Exquisite Fucking Boredom: Polaroids by Emma Bee Bernstein

  • Location:
    Microscope Gallery, 4 Charles Place, Brooklyn, NY, New York, New York, 11221, US

Exquisite Fucking Boredom

Polaroids by Emma Bee Bernstein

Curated by Phong Bui
May 24 - June 25

Opening Reception Thursday May 24, 6-9pm
Microscope Gallery is very pleased to present Exquisite Fucking Boredom, Polaroid images by artist/writer Emma Bee Bernstein (1985-2008). With intimate as well as often staged photographs of the artist and her close friends, Bernstein – who committed suicide in Venice, Italy at the age of 23 – transforms the spontaneous, on-the-spot Polaroid aesthetic into a generational portrait of hyper-self-conscious, passionately alluring young women and men taking on adulthood with deadly serious abandon. The roughly 200 photographs in Exquisite Fucking Boredom were taken during Bernstein’s college years, 2003 to 2007 and have never before been seen. The photographs have been assembled from Bernstein’s personal archive and private diary notebooks by curator Phong Bui in collaboration with her parents artist Susan Bee and poet Charles Bernstein and will also be on view.

Bernstein who earned a BA in Visual Arts and Art History from the University of Chicago writes, “The perfect projection of the internal imagined self, if it exists, only does so for the duration of the photographic performance.” Bernstein is indebted to the photography of Robert Mapplethorpe, Andy Warhol, Robert Frank, Nan Goldin, Francesca Woodman, and Cindy Sherman. Her works are marked by an acute awareness of the fleeting and temporary nature of existence. The Polaroid series are just one of several bodies of photographic works by the artist who also worked with 35mm film and digital formats. 

Bernstein’s short film Exquisite Fucking Boredom (2006) also will be shown during the course of the exhibit. And, film-maker Henry Hills will premiere on June 18 a new 80-minute version of Emma’s Dilemma, a film that documents Bernstein’s adolescent years (1997-2002), and features her conversations with Carolee Schneemann, Jackson Mac Low, Ken Jacobs, Richard Foreman, Keith Sanborn, Lee Ann Brown, Susan Howe, Kenneth Goldsmith, and others.


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EMMA BEE BERNSTEIN’s works have been previously exhibited at the University of Chicago; Janet Kurnatowski Gallery, NYC; A.I.R. Gallery; the Smart Museum, Chicago; and at the University of Nevada, Reno. Her book GirlDrive: Criss-Crossing America, Redefining Feminism, co-authored with Nona Willis Aronowitz, was published by Seal Press in 2009. Belladonna #4, which features her writing and photographs, was published in 2009.

PHONG BUI is an artist, writer, independent curator (curatorial advisor at MoMA PS1 2007 – 2010) and publisher of The Brooklyn Rail.

More info at www.microscopegallery.com