Who wants to see better challenges on Bravo’s reality show Work of Art? Judging by critic Jerry Saltz’ 300 plus Facebook comments on the subject, I’m guessing most of us. Prompted by this clear calling, I teamed up with Carolina A. Miranda of C-Monster.net fame to propose a few suggestions for the Bravo Team. Should the network’s still to be announced second season follow just a few of our recommendations, we’ll be watching a much more interesting show.
STRAIGHT FROM THE TUBE
Artistic Inspiration: Ellsworth Kelly
Sponsor: Winsor & Newton
It may be a painterly no-no to use paint straight from the tube, but it makes for a mighty fine reality television challenge. Artists each draw three tubes of well known paint colors — Cadmium Red, Alizarin Crimson, French Ultramarine amongst them — and are then required to create a work of painting or sculpture using only those colors. No blending allowed.
Artistic Inspiration: Dash Snow.
Two teams of artists are each sealed into rooms stocked with a Polaroid camera, 1000 issues of Artforum, a kiddie pool full of malt liquor, a skateboard and a buffet full of tranquilizers. Using these tools, each team must produce a 30-minute video set to music by an unsigned Brooklyn band. Immunity goes to whoever wakes up naked in Berlin.
Artistic Inspiration: Blu.
Sponsor: Benjamin Moore.
Supply each artist with several hundred gallons of house paint and a still camera and sneak them into an abandoned Bronx warehouse without seeking permission from the building’s owners. Whoever best incorporates nightmarish monsters into the architecture without getting charged with felony B&E wins.
Artistic Inspiration: Marina Abramovic, Vito Acconci.
Sponsor: Home Depot.
A large table is laid out with a Phillips-head screwdriver, a tattoo gun, a clown wig, a tube of hemorrhoid cream and a bedazzled tank top that reads Boricua Chula. Each artist must use at least one of these items to do a 15-minute performance, at least five minutes of which contains genital nudity. During this period, the artist takes full responsibility.
Artistic Inspiration: Walter De Maria, Robert Smithson
Two teams of artists are dropped into the Nevada desert armed with nothing but an earth mover and a bucket of 75 SPF sunscreen. Each group is required to produce a 5-acre piece inspired by geological history dating back to the Pleistocene. Works must display a keen knowledge of drainage and will be judged on their ability to be viewed on Google Earth.
Artistic Inspiration: Matthew Barney, Claes Oldenburg
Just how malleable are your materials? This exercise challenges artists to test the limitations of their materials by giving them only one to work with: soap. The first artist to attempt to float a giant bar of Ivory around the island of Manhattan will be eliminated for derivation. Claes Oldenburg proposed this very idea to Proctor and Gamble in 1972.
Artistic Inspiration: Bob Ross
Sponsor: Daniel Smith Paint Brushes
Artists must create a painting using a single tool. To kick off the challenge, a fan made of equal sized sticks is presented to the contestants. Each pulls out a hidden paint brush attached to each stick and written dimensions for the predetermined canvas size of their next work of art. One of those brushes is a fan brush; another, a 1 mm brush. The small brush receives a 30×40 inch stretcher. Artists have one day to complete this challenge.
INSTRUCTION BASED ART WORK
Artist example: Sol Lewitt, Yoko Ono
Following the contemporary art tradition in which artists create a set of instructions so anyone can recreate their art, this challenge asks artists to create their own art-making instructions. Once completed Bravo redistributes the instructions and artists are forced to remake their colleagues projects. This is a double elimination challenge as both the creator of the instructions and the executor of the losing work go home. Ha ha!
Artistic Example: Urs Fischer
Learn to dream Bravo. This challenge requires artists to spend copious amounts of time using technology contestants currently aren’t permitted to employ on the show: Phone, fax AND email. Artists have five days to work with manufacturers based in China to create a work and make flight arrangements to have it shipped back to Bravo studios. The most over-budget artist wins.
THE FINAL CHALLENGE: TESTING YOUR INNER ARTIST
Artistic Inspiration: Rob Pruitt and Jack Early.
Sponsor: Old Spice.
Artists are frequently known for transforming unhip materials and subject matter into challenging artistic endeavors. Sometimes this strategy backfires and artists can be unfairly punished only to be re-evaluated years later, other times it catapults them into fame immediately. This challenges asks artists to identify the most uncool subject matter or product and breath new life into it. The winning artist for this challenge may not be identified for several years.