This is the penultimate show before the crowning of the poor slob/saint who will make it through this hazing into the ever more imaginary world called art. The solo show at the Brooklyn Art Museum becomes more and more real, a plum prize the back story of which finds a trustee of that institution, Martin Baumrind, resigning in disgust. And of course he was right. What might have been a legitimate show would have been an exhibit of artifacts, ephemera and pieces from the whole gang: Nao’s “mask of shit”, Jaclyn’s rough draft self portraits with Miles’ fingerprints all over them, Mark’s self revelatory collaboration with Peregrine that got him a one way ticket home to New Jersey, Nicole’s failed homage to Jonathan Borofsky. Models, sketches and notes from the producers. Something like the present Pixar show at the Oakland museum. But a phenomena like this is never going to allow such transparency and appraisal. For all its bogus investment in some kind of verisimilitude, reality TV is as big a slab of artifice as any trompe l’oeil trickery.
• This would seem to be the “back-to-nature” or at least “back-to-real estate” episode. They’re dumped in a Connecticut forest where they’re instructed to gather any materials from the earth itself - twigs leaves, mud, zzzzzzzzz…. oops, sorry - except “nothing with a heartbeat”. So I guess they can still use Jerry Saltz.
• But isn’t this the 21st Century? After Hurricane Katrina, global warming, and bed bugs, how can anyone still be so goofy for nature? I mean seriously, haven’t they SEEN “Deliverance”? Haven’t they SEEN reruns of the Sopranos? You NEVER go into the woods. NEVER.
• “All evil begins in nature” - Lars Van Tier
• Jaclyn has the right attitude, which is that it’s too cold to take her clothes off so fuck it. She’s now in trouble because she suggests using an image that she created on “off time” and the group, especially the usually serene Nicole, is having kittens. Besides, she does have a cold and I believe her.
• Abdi is trying to really get back to basics by creating his own pigment from mother earth which is kind of cool. Beats Flax. And speaking of Flax…
• I’m just realizing that they’re leaving out my favorite part; The trip to the stores! I have a good friend who owns a large condo on Nob Hill and yet even he can’t bring himself to spend his cash at the prices you find at most art supply stores. So even he thinks nothing of shoplifting from Utrecht and Flax and frequently leaves with a bag of Titanium White, Lamp Black, Cadmium Orange, Colbalt Green, Alizarin Crimson tubes and maybe an occasional pocket reader or laminated bookmark. Like a National Enquirer at the grocery store, he says “it just JUMPED in my bag”!
I also have to chuckle when the contestants get a HUNDRED BUCKS to shop at a midtown Manhattan Utrecht store. In my experience, that will buy you some balsa wood, a couple sheets of foamcore, a box cutter for some self mutilation later that night and maybe some rubber cement to huff and set fire to, to make for a lovely evening. The hardware store budget is a little more realistic and would inspire me to go straight to the nailgun department and start letting the nails fly.
• Just got back from Flax by the way, where I was examining a $475 easel and was reminded of Gary Shandling’s comment to a digital watch salesman who tried to sell him a $4000 piece. “But it performs 36 functions” the salesman insists to which Shandling replied “For $4000 I’ll tell you what one of the functions it better perform…”
• Also just realized something kind of baffling about this show: what exactly is the time represented by this series? How many weeks did this whole process take? Is that ever disclosed? What function is the manipulation of time and duration playing? Since it’s TV we can rest assured it’s deliberate.
•A quick scan of any TV listing on a given day reveals a surfeit of reality programs: shows about lumberjacks, truck drivers, pawn store owners and of course models, designers, housewives and now artists. With all the occupations being taken, they’ll have to start mixing and matching tantalizing combos. I recommend “Work Of Art” meets “Cat Hoarders’ on “Animal Planet”. That would be edifying.
• “The Last Show” seems to be the phrase of the moment. What will happen in the finale? Without a “challenge” what will be the criteria and the events that will fulfill that criteria? This is the part of the Reality TV arc that still remains a mystery to me.
OKAY, SPOILER ALERTS AHEAD!
• I can’t tell you how much I hate the syntactical strategy of the pauses and reaction shots of faces as they announce the winner. Its such a cheat, like double-spacing or 18 point fonts in a term paper.
• Abdi did a proto-masterpiece with his invented pigment. Happy he’s staying.
• Not so happy that Mr.Teflon, Miles, that strange boy/alpha male of some unknown species (somewhere between poodles and meerkats), and his recent opus “Fungus Study # 1” earned another week.
• Jaclyn finally did a substantial, sublime, conceptual/minimalist work (at the last minute with a cold no less) but she forgot to show her hooters. She was of course discarded.
• Nicole is out. I was hoping she’d be a dark horse.
And so we spiral onward and downward, to the last episode next week. We’ve almost lived through it.
But don’t speak to soon…