For the mathematician, see Felix Bernstein (mathematician).

Felix Bernstein (born May 20, 1992) is a performance artist, video artist, writer, and cultural critic. Bernstein was born in New York City to poet Charles Bernstein and artist Susan Bee, and attended Bard College, graduating in 2013.

Bernstein’s art includes narrative films, poetry, short YouTube videos, durational performance videos, and live performances. In his work, he often plays characters based on cultural icons including: Amy Winehouse, Lamb Chop (puppet), Antony Hegerty, Leopold Brant (a parody of Peter Brant II), and Lady Gaga.[1]


Bernstein’s first video was a satirical coming out video for YouTube made in clown make-up in 2008.[2][3] In 2012, his first narrative film, Unchained Melody, premiered at Anthology Film Archives, featuring his parents Charles Bernstein and Susan Bee, the poet Cole Heinowitz, and the singer Shelley Hirsch.[4][5] In 2012, together with Gabe Hoot Rubin, he co-performed and co-directed Art & Language / Red Krayola’s opera Victorine at the 2012 Whitney Biennial.[6] Rubin and Bernstein make music, stage shows, and videos around themes of impersonation, poly-sexuality, and persona.[7] In January 2015, Rubin and Bernstein debuted the stage show Bieber Bathos Elegy at the Whitney Museum of American Art.[8] In February 2016, Nightboat published Bernstein’s first poetry collection, Burn Book.[9]

Writing and criticism

Bernstein’s work has been described as “zany” and “confessional." [10] Bernstein’s cultural criticism has been published in The Brooklyn Rail, Htmlgiant, The Volta, The Believer, Coldfront, Lemonhound, Hyperallergic, The Fanzine, and The Boston Review. [11][12][13][14][15][16][17][18]

Bernstein’s article-turned-book “Notes on Post-Conceptual Poetry” is a critical and ambivalent survey of language poetry, conceptual poetry and the art in their lineage. Bernstein’s central argument is that there has been a shift from language poetry’s death of the author to conceptual poetry’s death of the writerly to post-conceptual poetry’s death of reading. The Goldsmith aesthetic, along with that of postpostmodernism in general (Queer Theory, Speculative Realism, Metamodernism, Gaga Feminism, Alternative literature, New Sincerity), has brought a decline in incisive and dialectical criticality, an overemphasis on social networks, slapdash viral superstars, and a hyper-mediated institutionalization of affect through an unconscious structuralism that masks itself as a romantic return to sheer materiality and the great outdoors.[19]

According to Capilano Review,

“Drawing on thinkers from Deleuze to Lacan to Love to Ngai to Badiou to Barthes to Perloff, and combining a Zizekian X-ray vision with the biting ‘you can’t scare me’ of youth, Notes constitutes Bernstein’s irruption into / refusal of the institutional avant-garde."[20]

In the New York Times, Holland Cotter called Bernstein’s “blistering cultural criticism,” one of the best things in 2015 art.[21] Notes was selected by Seth Price as the best book of 2015 in Artforum. Price wrote,

“Bernstein’s book is basically a symptomology report, which is one definition of an artwork. Symptoms include youth culture, the avant-garde, queer theory, alt lit, and social media…Keeping a space open can be a political act, and that’s what Bernstein’s doing with his writing, or his persona, and maybe there’s no difference. It’s hard to say what this space is, but you could call it a space of trouble.”[22]


  • Notes on Post-Conceptual Poetry. Insert Blanc Press. 2015.[23][24]
  • Burn Book. Nightboat. 2016.[25]

External links


  1. ^ Felix Bernstein, YouTube Channel..
  2. ^ Felix's Coming Out Video.
  3. ^ Nordeen, Bradford. “Private Dancers: Social Media Platforms and Contemporary New York Drag Performance,” Afterimage, Vol. 41, No. 4.
  4. ^ Unchained Melody. Felix Bernstein Youtube Channel.
  5. ^ Anthology Film Archives. Felix Bernstein.
  6. ^ Victorine. Felix Bernstein and Gabe Hoot.
  7. ^ "Felix Bernstein and Gabe Rubin". The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. Retrieved 2016-04-09. 
  8. ^ "Felix Bernstein: Bieber Bathos Elegy | Whitney Museum of American Art". Retrieved 2016-04-09. 
  9. ^ "Nightboat Books". Retrieved 2016-04-09. 
  10. ^ Ngai, Sianne. Introduction to Our Aesthetic Categories: Zany, Cute, Interesting. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 2012.
  11. ^ “New Fangled Old Things: Views from the Avant-Garde 2012.”
  12. ^
  13. ^ “Evening Will Come: A Monthly Journal of Poetics. Conceptual Poetry Feature.” Issue 41, May 2014.
  14. ^ The Believer Logger. August 18, 2014.
  15. ^ “Cecilia Corrigan’s Blonde Ambition.” Coldfront Magazine. May 29th, 2014.
  16. ^ “Forget O'Hara.” Boston Review. June 24, 2014.
  17. ^ The Black and Red Interview: Felix Bernstein & Vanessa Place. The Fanzine. December 18, 2014.
  18. ^ “The Golden Mean Dorothea Lasky and the Well Adjusted Poem.” Hyperallergic. December 7, 2014.
  19. ^ “Notes on Conceptual Poetry.” Insert Blanc Press. 2015.
  20. ^ Lawrence, Monroe “Felix Bernstein's Post-conceptual Integrity”. The Capilano TCR. Fall 2014.
  21. ^ Cotter, Holland; Smith, Roberta (2015-12-09). "The Best in Art of 2015". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2016-04-09. 
  22. ^ Price, Seth. "Seth Price". Retrieved 2016-04-09. 
  23. ^ “Notes on Conceptual Poetry.” Insert Blanc Press. 2015.
  24. ^ "The Roast of Felix Bernstein: Notes on Post-Conceptual Poetry". Issue Project Room. Retrieved May 20, 2015. 
  25. ^ "Nightboat Books". Retrieved 2016-04-09.