Work of Art: Season 2, Episode 8

Six artestants remain on America’s Next Work of Great Art Person: Miami Redux 3D. Who will win, and who will fail? Us? We’re just two episodes away from the finale, and this episode is hilariously themed the “sell-out” challenge, as if…no. I won’t do it. Too easy.

If I had to advise an artist on how to make things people would buy on the street, I’d say whatever it is make sure it has the Brooklyn Bridge, it is vaguely abstracted but still realistic, requires 1.5 seconds to understand what it is, and 11 x 14 inches in size. Whatever it is, it must fit in a carry-on bag and/or not take up too much wallspace in your nephew’s tiny Queens apartment.

The artestants break into three teams of two, and all of them decide to customize clothes to sell. Given they need to complete the “art” in 6 hours, I don’t blame them. Somehow they all end up at American Apparel, which could be possibly the worst place to find inexpensive t-shirts, but oh well. Maybe there’s no TJ Maxx in TriBeCa.

After the first commercial break we’re warned that there might be “unsuitable” content ahead, which means vagina and penises, always. If this were a reality series set in, I don’t know, Thailand, then maybe putting nudity in the pieces would have made sense. And, um, if Lola’s “sexyness” is supposed to sell t-shirts…is there any sense to her putting a comb through her hair? Gosh, I’ve gotten mean.

What was the moral of this episode? Ostensibly that artists have to sell out at some point so long as it still looks good on the gallery wall. What does that really mean? “Good” art should be both accessible and yet elevated, apparently. Yet whichever team “wins” (by selling the most) the street mini-challenge not only gets $30,000 but immunity in the later gallery challenge as well. So they could conceivably make something really saleable for the first half of the day and then phone-in the gallery challenge. Needless to say, I think this is sending a mixed-message. That’s like saying if you took the world’s museum’s most celebrated paintings and tried to sell them in a park in NYC, nearly ever passerby would no only appreciate them but spend money [assuming for the purposes of this hypothetical, they don’t already know the painting is valuable]. Would that really happen, in practice?

I barely like Young and Sara J’s booth. Young’s made various stenciled goods, namely underwear, while Sara is just cranking out little drawings (portraits of strangers) and watercolors in real-time. Lola’s, on the other hand, is by far the worst. She photographs herself naked and slams some text on top. Just, you know, layer the shit out of two symbolism-heavy things. Wham bam. She sort of redeems herself later by coming up with the idea of selling secrets, and her final one — $0.25 and unspecified — results in a 3-year-old girl crying. The third team’s booth? Ugh, I barely recall. Racist paper headdresses I think. Kymia sold her signatures and asked for one in return from each person. I don’t hate this.

The artestants are running out of ideas, and I don’t blame them. It’s time for the judging! Jeanne’s back, and we know even less about her hair’s apparent length than last season. This is an achievement. Is it long? Is it short? I’m not even sure if it’s straight or curly anymore.

The Winners:

Young/Sara J: They win by default through sales, which is frustrating since Young basically cheated by making one piece for the street (underwear) and a different one for the gallery (paintings), for which Jeanne chews him out. Still, I liked Sara J’s handiwork. Was it all worth $30,000? No.

The Losers:

In an uninteresting judging twist, all four of the others are considered for elimination.

Kymia: The signature idea indeed pays off, as Kymia has probably the most realized piece. Still, it’s kind of boring and flat. I think if she had more time and could have played with the presentation more (i.e. framing), it could have excelled a bit. SAFE!

Lola: As much as I dislike Lola’s onscreen performance as a person, her nude portrait and secret-selling weren’t the worst. At least with the secrets we saw a small child’s dreams crushed, and for that she is SAFE.

Dusty: The surveillance/map signpost at least looks like something. I mean, certainly I don’t think it has depth, but it’s not as fucking awful as Other Sara’s. SAFE!

Sara: She is of course eliminated, and for once I agree with the judges. She made what amounts to those Burger King paper crowns but with an added touch of racism just for shits and giggles. THE LOSER!

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