"Ripped from the Headlines" is the title of this week's episode, and as luck would have it, Ai Weiwei and guest judge Adam McEwen are both front page news. Or at least they should be. McEwen got famous writing fake New York Times obits for subjects who aren't dead yet, most notably Kate Moss and Bill Clinton. It's a form of memento mori and a way to conflate time. If you are in New York, please do yourself a favor and check out his remarkable exhibition at Marianne Boesky uptown. When I was there for the opening last week, Joan Didion was touring his show. Wow!
If you have been following current events, you may have heard that Chinese artist activist Ai Weiwei raised $840K last week to fight the "tax bill" China is imposing on him to the amount of $2.4 million. According to ArtForum.com, "Ai said that he would not treat the money from supporters as donations, but as loans that he would repay." I aspire to be as gracious as this man. He may be the single most important artist alive today, and good for Young to force the paper of record to install a reminder of his plight in their headquarters. I can't wait to see it in person. Ai Weiwei is a hero to all people who believe in freedom of expression. I know an art historian in Chicago who says that MLK and Gandhi might have been the greatest performance artists of the 20th century. We just didn't have the language to describe what they were doing. Ditto for Ai Weiwei fighting the good fight inside the world's next superpower.
Bill, I agree that it's important to have some living artists out there, and I'm sorry to say I'm one who can't, off the top of my head, name five I'm sure are alive.
That said, while I'm pleased that Ai Weiwei is getting attention, I didn't think Young's piece was all that good in comparison to Lola's or Dusty's... did it just come across badly on TV?
I love the show and it's a great way to introduce art to people like me who aren't necessarily familiar with it.
Well-said. An observation: Last season and this season, the use of bodily fluids and functions, the degradation of religion, the over-use of sex and/or perversion as subject matter all seem to indicate a wish to shock rather than to create truly original art. Example: Invigorating modern street dance became "poop"? Shame on the contestants for shallowly reaching for the gratuitous "taboo" subjects rather than seeing and thinking and creating in new ways. I'm terribly disappointed by the lack of imagination shown by so many of the contestants. Cheap shots, going for the gory and the guilty is the same-old-same-old in contemporary art. I'd hate for the show to go under because of gross and uninspired work. Art should be limitless, not limited to uncomfortable subjects.
I agree with BarbaraE. I am also pleased that Ai Weiwei was a focal point of this week's episode. However I too did not feel that Young's piece was stronger than Dusty's or Lola's. That is in comparison to overall composition, visual aspect, and craftsmanship. Dusty's piece, I believe, was much stronger.
well said. I watch the show with my 8 year old daughter (yes, depending on the content) because I want her to know how important art is, and why we need its impact. I believe the show is 100% better than last season and I really enjoyed last season. There is nothing wrong with making art accessible to the masses, as long as it teaches, not preaches, and it encourages creativity for the sake of personal and world growth, not just for gratuitous self-satisfaction.
I agree with BarbaraE.. I too am pleased that Ai Weiwei was given some attention in this week's episode. However I feel that Young's piece was not as strong as Dusty's. That is in overall comparison of: composition, visual aspect, and craftsmanship of the piece. I think Young was just "riding on the shoulder of a giant".
Great post. Your best to date. And I agree it's sad just how lacking art is in the public consciousness. However, this show hasn't really been celebrating good art this year. At least three of your contestants have very little technical skill (I'm talking about Bayete, Tewz and Sucklord). This show focuses so much attention on Sucklord, yet he makes the worst, sometimes borderline-embarrassing pieces. You should focus on Michelle, whose work is beautiful. You also reward Young, whose pieces are lackluster, boring and safe. So maybe the show should look in the mirror a bit regarding the comments made about it, and maybe if you wanted to truly celebrate and promote art, this wasn't the group to do it with.
I find the justification in the last paragraph to be sound. I don't really expect a TV program to find "the next great artist," but if it reminds us of the richness and potential of art, that's a fine thing. And I enjoy being introduced, if only briefly, to the artists who serve as guest judges.
And of course, we can agree or disagree with the outcome. Like BarbaraE, I wasn't sure Young's piece was the strongest last night. Perhaps in part I wanted a specificity or detail that might have come from wrestling with an actual headline, whereas Young really wrote his own, simplified version. Moreover, both his high-profile wins have struck me as a bit facile. Prop 8 is bad, Ai Weiwei is good -- while I agree with those statements (perhaps _because_ I agree with them), I don't find them particularly provocative, and they're easy to make to an arts community that's likely to agree and feel good about validating them.
I hope that the artists will be encouraged to engage thoughtfully with ideas they explore and share this process with the viewers through their work. I think others better accomplished that in this episode.
I'm sorry, I still think Dusty was ripped off. Young's piece or pieces looked like something you throw away after moving.
Unfortunately, the show follows a format in which we have seen contestants snipe with one another while creating a dress or a roasted scallop. People have a hard time processing what is different. I think the whole show is a work of art, with highs and lows, laughs and tears. Besides, I love China's outfits. Her mod-button dress was the best and even I got last night's replication of the texture from a stack of newspapers and I'm wearing flip-flops and a hoodie right now.
Hi Bill, Thanks for your blog this week. I think it was probably evil bad Bravo editing, but your passion and care for art just wasn’t coming through for me on the show. I appreciate what you say about WOA and it’s viewers being in service to art. A lot of people are afraid of looking stupid or ignorant so they never really learn how to have a constructive conversation about art. The show is kind of a fun way into that conversation.
Ok, i never comment on blogs or write to anyone. But the 2 wins by Yung have really made me wonder what the show is becoming. I love that there is finally an art show on TV, and talents are being showcased worldwide. But is the show "work of art" or "choice of subject". The Prop. 8 board was not creative and lacked nuance. Yet its a subject that many find important (as do I) and fits the magazine better then boobs with a bottle. But was it really a better "work of art"? In last nights show, he wins, i believe soly on the basis of the subject than the actual piece. He stacked black newspaper with the headline on top for christ sake. It reminded me of Dusty's trashcan that you guys killed (deservingly so). But this weeks piece by dusty was amazing, it was bold, grand, and hit a subject that is timeless in america. Yet, i believe you guys choose subject over the better art piece. If i am wrong, i apologize. But thats what i feel after witnessing two wins that i felt were not the best "works of art". Sorry for any spelling errors, writing this on my lunch break. But for the most part, i appreciate your guys rolls in the show, and really enjoy it as a whole.
Why do you love Young so much? He is not the most talented artist on the show. His "prop 8" had no creativity, and was just and old poster rehashed into a large er poster. I thought this show was about art???
The format of the show is focusing on the loosing art and why it doesn't work while hardly show the winning art or talking about why it's good. Really would like to see more focus on what art is working rather then what's not. Not really seeing enough of what's going on to even second guess what you're judging.
We don't have much of an art gallery in our town but we do have a college that has an art school. We are somewhat limited by our "art appreciation" But our family likes this show. It brings art and free expression into the home. I enjoy sitting with my daughter who is 26 years old and discuss why she likes one piece over another. We never pick the same artist or piece.
Great blog this week, I totally agree. I think Dusty should have won. That was an outstanding piece.
This comment is solely directed at the previous comments regarding Young's work. I disagree with the comments that his work is lackluster or safe. I feel he took an incredible risk tackling a controversial topic, and invited viewers to interact with it. Having a space for the viewers to write on the back of the piece did more than tell them what to think, it invited a conversation. The new piece, which addressed the plight of Chinese artist activist Ai Weiwei, was also another huge topic; something I would not consider "safe" or "lackluster". Young is talented in that he is able to convey a message, allow the viewer to formulate their own opinion, without shoving it down their throats! I hope that those that doubt him take the time to give his work another chance.