Jerry Saltz

Jerry hopes that Michelle actually gets to make her poop piece at some point this season.

on Oct 20, 2011

Spatial ruptures don't disrupt the cool of our redoubtable artist-mentor, Simon de Pury, however. At the opening of this week's show, his aristocratic Swiss accent happily stirs the artists from sleep as he bursts into their rooms, cheerfully calling out, "Wake-ee wake-ee, artists!" (I imagine his child with a permanently startled look.) As the contestants commiserate about the harshness of last week's crits, my inner sadist grins. Tewz, who likes to remind us that he was arrested once for writing graffiti and put in Cook County Jail, sighs that loser Ugo "was a nice guy." Obviously irked that Ugo was a rival for female attention, Sucklord snaps, "Yeah, well, nice guys finish last." Soon the artists meet Simon and host China Chow in a park. I relish Young's veiled-sultana look and Leon's samurai topknot. Suddenly five guys run around the artists, doing backflips, jumping off walls, leaping from curbs. It's parkour, the activity (a quick BlackBerry Google tells me) in which people run through urban spaces doing death-defying acrobatic moves. Parkour is the basis for this week's challenge: Make a work of art about motion. Readers, viewers, let me confess something right now. I've made my peace with Bravo's ideas for challenges. Anything that gets the artists working is fine with me. I'm still waiting for the producers to respond to all my e-mails telling them to have the artists design a religion or draw the afterlife or make a video-portrait of each other.

The artists are then split into groups. I love this, because I know I could never work with anyone. Neither can 99 percent of artists, who spend most of their time alone in their studios going nuts, doubting themselves, deluding themselves with grandeur, or masturbating. One group talks about motion in such literal terms that I wonder whether some of these people are even artists. As Bayeté discusses "stop-motion" and Sara frets, a dazzling idea is offered by last week's winner, Michelle, who sweetly says "I'd love to do a pooping piece." Everyone stops. The boys boggle. Sara frets more. Sucklord demands, "What does poop have to do with motion?!" The witty Kymia says "digestion" (kindly failing to add "you big dummy!"). The other group goes off the rails, choosing the geopolitical abstract theme of global migration. This absurdity drives Jazz-Minh to go do backflips with the hunky parkour guys. Kathryn then says she'd like to do something about … "digestion." Boy, did she end up in the wrong group.