Friday, July 2, 2010

TV! Work of Art

I don't know if anyone else is even watching this show, but I'm in love with it. This week's challenge was guaranteed to fire up the What the Heck on all eight cylinders. Yeah, I'm not sure what that means either. First off, the guest judge was none other than modern art bad boy Andres Serrano, who is known for his outre subjects. I find his work thoughtful, passionate and provoking, but I don't offend very easily. With Serrano as the judge, of course the challenge was to create a shocking piece of art. Really?

Here's the thing: Shocking is one of those incredibly subjective adjectives. What would shock you would not shock me and vice versa. Plus, I'm not sure that you ought to go about creating a piece of art just intended to "shock." When an artist purposefully tries to shock their audience, well, it usually is a capital FAIL. And that's pretty much what happened here. Nakedness and bodily fluids and blasphemy. Not shocking. Especially not in terms of postmodern art.

The piece above is the winner, from Abdi, and deservedly so. Titled "I.E.D. (Improvised Exploding Device)," it's a commentary on young African American males, and how they have basically become walking human time bombs. Although you can't see it here in the Bravo screen grab, apparently the little heads were actually lit for the show, and were installed on the floor, which would give the viewer an odd point of view for the piece. I love it, as I've loved everything Abdi has done for the show.

I'll spare you the losers. One was the performance artist lady who did some sort of performance involving bodily functions and a tee pee made of fiber board. Even she couldn't explain it. The other involved self oral stimulation. Yeah. It was bad.

I wonder if it's becoming harder and harder to shock us as a viewing public. I mean, reality TV itself has made us pretty much immune to public humiliation. Remember Fear Factor? Or all of the celebrity sex tapes that were "leaked"? We've seen violence, sex and unending Paris Hilton.

Do you know what shocks me? The continuing underwater video feed of the oil spewing out into the Gulf of Mexico. Congress cutting unemployment benefits when there are still six people unemployed for every open position in the US. And Sarah Palin, every single time she opens her mouth. These things make me feel exactly like those little angry bomb heads up there. Naughty nudity? Not so much.

Once again, I'd like to recommend Work of Art. If you're a creative person, it's fascinating to watch how these people make art under challenge and time constraints, not to mention how these egos interact in a small space.


  1. Oh Laura, I absolutely love that show! I have Abdi earmarked to win the whole thing, his first piece, I think it was a portrait of Ryan, the colours, compostions, amazing.

    I am so glad the performance lady is gone, I do not think it proves you are a great artist if you have a big ego!

    Everyone should watch this show :)

    Have a wonderful 4th :) T.

  2. I at first thought I would hate this show -- but reality shows hold a special place in my heart -- I have grown fond of it :)