Work of Art: Season 2, Episode 6

It’s certainly been an interesting week in the art world, and though of course Work of Art was prerecorded and thus couldn’t comment on the news at the moment, I still nonetheless found this episode relevant and as always, entertaining. Did you?

To backtrack a bit, I appreciated the challenge last week but didn’t love the products nor ultimately did I really agree with the judges. A solo show at the “world-famous” Brooklyn Museum hangs in the balance, so let’s not waste any more time:

Right away, someone asks Young to “massage [their] vagina!” Am I a writer for this show? Loves it.

This is totally a side note, but don’t you just hate how these shows (with the explicit exception of Project Runway) that are based in New York City almost always house the contestants in Brooklyn, yet never mention that? From Top Chef to Design Star to Make Me A Supermodel, the borough (which by the way, is the most populist of the five) constantly is omitted from recognition, despite the numerous and obvious van/bus rides over the Manhattan and Brooklyn bridges in every episode. Make it stop! [Edit: Err, apparently the Dillon is in Midtown West, so I…um, retract my complaint…They were in fact driving from Manhattan into Brooklyn.]

China’s outfits are seldom appropriate, but her white structured bubble dress is especially ridiculous in the context of the street art vibe of this episode. Make it stop! Make it stop? Hmm…continue? Yes, continue. China, we’re watching you, but…nice job? Ugh, this show! Her dress is the canvas! She really does look upset when getting tagged, which was fun. I suppose she inhaled a lot of indirect aerosol. OK, I totally love China a this point. She’s so game. I forgive her lack of background knowledge and choose to appreciate instead her gung-ho-ness about it all. Sure, being the host of this show naturally implies she’s seeking fame, but compared to her peers I don’t get such a malicious vibe from her. There’s a cool beat where The Sucklord, sensing her apprehension for this whole spray-paint-my-clothes idea, hugs her and says, “relax, relax,” before planting two neon green paint nipples on her boobs. Classic.

Finally, a challenge that The Sucklord wouldn’t suck at? Will his libido handle two female artestants?

The producers try to inject some tensions in the “in progress” segment (and oddly leaving out Simone…although he does exit the York St F station, which I found personally amazing since it used to be my unfortunate route to work…maybe a town car dropped him off), but really all we have is a silly moment where someone denies another the use of the scanner. Oh, you bitch! More so, I found the production phase rather interesting. We see that some contestants are talking about migration while others are talking about loosing/becoming a parent. Several take the scale and street art premise intelligently. I like, for example, The Sucklord’s idea to use the bricks as an inspiration to create a three-dimensional maze, invoking both the city as a whole as well as the viewer’s elusive gaze.

This is not a critique of Young and Dusty at all, since obviously they were unaware of it at the time, but their staircases immediately remind me of the Paul McCarthy show in London up now. Totally unrelated, but still, an interesting coincidence.

The only major critique I have for this episode is that street art can’t be detailed. Maybe it comes from this naive notion that only stencils and spray paint constitute art of the street, but if the artist is able to adapt his/her style to a large public scale, how is that not street art? I wonder if out of the context of this show, specifically the lack of police reprisal, that critique would be valid. I just don’t accept that artestants aren’t allowed to create giant yet detailed works on paper that the they adhere to the wall. Kind of like a billboard? It’s an arbitrary distinction.

So who lost and who won? Really no one, as always, but someone won $30,000!

The Winners:

Dusty/Young: This was my least favorite. It was too graphic, perfect, and digital. It was student art on a high budget. It used only words to explain the meaning (which was interesting, as I said). It just didn’t do it for me. Fucking balls…the WINNERS. At least we’ll get to see Dusty in Young’s short-shorts.

Sarah/Kymia: I really liked this one. We had the Philippino/Iranian immigrant backstory without the image being only about that. In fact, it was superficially barely about immigration, as far as I read it. Certainly, I got the “uprooting,” but I wonder how much my final understanding was colored by their in-progress explanations (probably a lot). Still, i’ts an odd, charming, bold, and somehow appropriate/inappropriate image. It’s really only two large drawings, but that doesn’t necessarily means it fails. Whereas I started out bemoaning the judges’ pre-criticizing anyone who took detail and expanded it, I think that that suggestion indeed helped Kymia and Sarah. Their bizarre alien and tree draw my attention more than once. It’s the sort of mural you’d see on your way to work everyday and perhaps not immediately appreciate, yet you’d always remember it. Plus, as China says, the scale works well.

The Losers:

The thirty-eight birds who died to make China’s outfit. Worth it?

Other Sarah/Sucklord: Yah, this definitely works better as an idea. Jerry says that basically from afar it’s boring street art, and I can’t say I disagree. Still, I think they deserve credit for elevating the concept more than the others. I like the slightly optical illusion element, and I like that it’s architectural. Maybe the problem is that it doesn’t work on multiple scales. It’s weird that we see it photographed and reproduced in the judging room (couldn’t they judge on the street)? PEACE OUT, SUCKY McSUCKYLORD! You had a good run.

Lola/Michelle: The bitchy scanner-hoarders get their comeuppance! I rather liked their piece, though. It was one of the few that didn’t exhibit a clear distance and/or differentiation between the two artestants. Sure, it was naughty and crude, but they stuck with it. There wasn’t a penis here or a cigarette there; there was shit everything. They even made stickers to “tag” other artestants’ works. Genius! They were also the only ones to use the bricked-in windows thoughtfully, creating fantastical tableaus with bizarre creatures and sexual fantasy. Maybe this work also didn’t work on multiple scales, but at least it had detail and nuance. Still, it looked a little unfinished compared to the others, and it was sort of bitchy for them to encourage the audience to deface the other pieces (don’t real graffiti artists have some sort of statute of limitations?). But it was devious. Ugh. I hate shows that punish smart ideas.

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