Work of Art 6/30 Recap: Half the Shock, Double the Fail
Welcome to another week of Work of Art. Last week, we said goodbye to Judith, who showed her complete inability to understand book cover design. I’ll bet the studio is a million times quieter without her.
The artists’ assignment this week is to create a work of art that is shocking. I will be shocked if any of the final products succeeds. The artists learn about their assignment at Simon de Pury’s auction house, Phillips de Pury, where they see work by Andre Serrano, an artist known for his shocking work. Abdi, a recent art school grad, has no knowledge of Serrano’s most famously shocking work, Piss Christ an image of a crucifix placed in the artist’s own urine. Jamie explains the idea behind the piece and I’m actually really surprised that she doesn’t hate it. Serrano will also be the guest artist this week.
The most shocking thing about this episode is that two people will be eliminated.
Ryan, "My Tranny Porno Fantasy"
Ryan says he’s trying to shock his mother and upset himself. He admits that his work pretty much only shocks suburban housewives and this piece lives up to that. Mark observes that Ryan seems to enjoy being in drag a little too much.
Peregrine, "Herpes for Chanel / Syphilis for Prada"
Peregrine admits she started out going in one direction – drawing Siamese twins – but then realized the figures looked more like fashion models. China Chow recognizes her own dress on one of the figures, so maybe that’s one person who was shocked by Peregrine’s work.
Nicole has a phobia about losing a limb, so her piece involves molds of her thumb. Nicole says that being a twin has made her a very competitive person. She uses blood and saliva in her work, which Mark thinks is not shocking at all…unless you’re a freshman in college. I have to agree: it feels like a very immature idea of what shocking really is. During the gallery show, actor Steve Coogan chats Nicole up. I doubt it has anything to do with her work.
Miles, “First and Last”
Miles is finally looking better rested. He says he’s not so stressed out now that Judith is finally gone – she was always trying to talk to him. He also doesn’t have to fake bathroom breaks to get away from her. He relates a story about his first erection occurring while watching The Little Mermaid as he works on a line drawing of a Mickey Mouse head filled in with misshapen genitals and nipples and other naughty bits. Miles seems much more calm this week and his only freak out comes when they run out of coffee. Miles admits his piece isn’t really shocking, so he decides that, because it’s about the first erection he ever had, that he should mark it with his last erection. He rolls up the paper and heads off to the bathroom to get it done. He returns, in what seems like only moments later, giggling.
Mark, “In an Instant”
Mark finds pedophilia to be the most shocking thing, so his work will address that issue. To me, it’s a bit too cartoon-y and, since we see very little footage of Mark’s work, it seems no one else found it very shocking either.
Jaclyn, "Triple Self-Portrait in Bathroom" - TOP TWO
Since Jaclyn got slammed last week for not using a photograph image of herself in her book cover, she’s going all the way and using nude photographs of herself this week. Various contestants bust in on her in the bathroom as she’s taking the photographs and I can’t help but wonder if she left the door unlocked on purpose. Jaclyn claims she’s a prude. Uh-huh. Simon isn’t sure about the work being provocative and Jaclyn doesn’t know how to up the shock factor. Erik suggests that she let the other people write vile things on the photographs and she agrees. During the gallery show, the visitors are invited to write on the photographs with Sharpees. The only part of the work that the judges seem to like is the part that Erik suggested. Jaclyn argues that she’d already come up with that idea on her own.
Abdi, “IED” (Improvised Explosive Device) – WINNER
Abdi’s three sculptures are the heads of black males that are also bombs. He tells us it’s a commentary on how minority kids are neglected by society and become ticking time bombs. He creates a mold and then gets down to pouring each one. Once again, Abdi’s bad time management affects his final product. He’d originally planned on nine sculptures and quickly realizes he’ll be lucky if he gets three. The judges give Abdi the win because his piece made them think long after they stepped away from it. He has immunity for the next challenge.
Jamie – BOTTOM FOUR
Jamie, as a Christian, says her work has addressed the issue of hypocrisy and the Christian right, so she’s excited about the challenge. Her work is a comical take off on The Last Supper with Victoria’s Secret angels and drunk girls who all have weapons and are about to attack Jesus. Simon doesn’t find it shocking at all. This may be shocking at a bible study meeting, but in the art world? Not so much. It was “apostles gone wild,” just not wild enough, say the judges.
Erik, "Sex Education" – BOTTOM FOUR
Erik thinks that, if he stays on the show long enough, he may gain some acceptance in the art world. Talk about not having a grasp on the situation. Upon seeing Serrano, Erik decides this means there’s finally someone like him there who can understand him. Erik says his piece is an attack on child abuse in the Catholic church. Not sure how shocking that is, but whatever. The feet in Erik’s piece belong to Ryan and Jaclyn. Erik uses Photoshop to manipulate the image and make it more provocative. None of the judges found it very shocking.
Nao, “Barely Standing” – ELIMINATED
Nao claims there isn’t much that shocks her. She admits she isn’t sure where her work is going, but she creates a structure to go around her character. She tells Simon she’s in the process of going to outer space and then coming back with information. Simon just looks puzzled and seeing the structure in which she’ll be sitting doesn’t clear things up for him. During the gallery show, Nao sits in her off teepee structure, dressed in a plastic bag smeared with what looks like poop. Nao says it wasn’t excrement, but admits it came off looking that way. During the judges’ critique, she still can’t explain her work. Jerry Saltz says it comes off as adolescent mixed with “shock your grandmother” performance art. The judges call her work a “scatological mess.”
John, ”The Recluse” – ELIMINATED
Work of Art - Photos - Episode 4: Rate the Work | Bravo TV Official Site
John says being gay is shocking enough (not), so he’s not really accustomed to doing shocking things with his art. Apparently, John knows a guy who can, um, orally pleasure himself and that’s what he’s painting. It’s totally not PG-13, so you can check it out at the link above. John misspelled the word “fellatio”, but Serrano says that’s okay – a lot of people who write graffiti are bad spellers too. OUCH. Because I am a 14-year old boy, I snicker when the judges repeatedly talk about how John didn’t “go deep” in this challenge. They mean that he should have used a photograph of himself rather than a cartoonish drawing, but still.
John admits that it’s hard to win a challenge one week and then completely lose it the next week, while Nao is more Zen about her loss: failure is okay in the process of making art, because it’s important to push boundaries. John also admits that his mistake was probably in trying to please Andre Serrano instead of himself….and yeah, that made me snicker too.