Discussion Thread: Work of Art

[Trigger warning for sexual assault, clergy abuse, and transphobia.]

Is anyone else as morbidly fascinated with the Bravo reality competition trainwreck "Work of Art" as I am? I hope so, because I really want to talk about last night's episode.

Some background for those who aren't watching the show: It's a reality/game show in which a dozen or so artists compete for a monetary prize and the title of Bestest Artist or wev, a la "Top Chef" or "Project Runway," except instead of geoduck or silk chiffon, the contestants are working with paint and cameras and concrete. To build concrete buttholes. No, really. (That's how the artist described them; I'm not being cheeky. Ahem.)

And, as you'd expect from the "progressive, edgy" art world, the first three challenges were won by young white men, while the contestants who went home were, in order: A black woman, an Asian man, and a white woman over 50. To be clear, the concrete butthole work pictured above was one of the winners.

Now, I readily admit I'll totes be the last one out of the Matrix, but this show is just absurd. (Which, I'll be honest, is mainly why I'm enjoying it so much.)

And last night it got even absurder when Andres "Piss Christ" Serrano showed up as guest judge, and the contestants were instructed that their new challenge was to create something "shocking." Really? This is how art works? Go create something "shocking" on demand!

Because that quite evidently isn't how art works, the artists commanded to conceive of something deliberately and consciously outrageous—as opposed to creating something with the purpose of expression, which may be shocking as a by-product of that expression—the majority of the concepts were juvenile, calculated, and painfully obvious; they had all the subtlety of a hammer being applied directly to the skull.

There was a lot of sexually-themed work (really? sex is still "shocking"?), and three different men did images of sexual assaults. One did a photograph of himself as a "tranny" (his word) being strangled with cum all over his face. One did a poster with "Sex Education" scrawled above the image of what was supposed to be a priest in bed with a little boy, with a cross hanging over the bed. And another did a series of three photographs—the first of a torn little girl's dress, the second of torn and bloodied little girl's panties, and the third of a deflated red balloon.


None of them won, and none of them lost. I guess that makes sexual assault art the Goldilocks of shockitude. Or something.

I also "loved" the work of the woman who takes naked pictures of herself, typically in voyeuristic scenes where she's meant to appear drunk and/or sexually vulnerable, being described as "the feminist perspective." Of course, that was according to the guy whose work was called "My Tranny Porno Fantasy," so take that with a grain of stupid.


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