Work of Art Recap: Abdi Farah To Exhibit At The Brooklyn Museum of Art

by Paddy Johnson on August 12, 2010 · 175 comments WANGA

Work of Art Contestants at The Brooklyn Museum

As it turns out $5,000 dollars and three solid months of studio time to produce an exhibition goes a long way. This point was demonstrated last night on Bravo’s reality show Work of Art, as audiences watched the final three contestants, Miles Mendenhall, Peregrine Honig and Abdi Farah produce three finished bodies of work for display at Phillips de Pury’s auction house (hurray no more carpeted Bravo galleries!). All produced far superior art than we’d seen previously, the gulf between what can be made in a few hours vs many months being far more extreme than what viewers see on Project Runway. This is likely a liability for the show — Audiences get far more out of the last episode than the nine before it — but it at least demonstrates a harden reality of art making: Time and resources are required to produce good work.

For this reason it would be better if the show’s winner reflected the amount of experience needed to develop a mature body of work. “I have a month left to make the most amazing body of work I’ve ever made” Abdi Farah tells audiences. He actually has the rest of his life, but this is the perspective you get from a 22 year old.

That said, from what I saw last night Farah may have achieved his goals, even if it still falls short of what I would consider a strong exhibition. Farah won the show finale – an outcome I have some reservations about — though I didn’t see the show in person. Not being able to view the work in the flesh was an issue with Mendenhall as well — op art never translates onto the screen — but less so in the case of Honig who’s installation appeared document easily.

That I would want to see the work at all before passing judgement a good sign for the quality of the work itself, and Bravo did well not to undercut the credibility of the exhibitions with their regular carpet laden gallery.  I will note however that Sarah Jessica Parker’s “wows” at the final show were a little ridiculous as are Bravo’s fifteen millionth mention of the Brooklyn Museum as “The Greatest Museum in the World”. This reads in stark contrast to last week’s New York Times article asking various professionals for suggestions on how the institution could improve their programming.

I’m not going to bother recapping the entire episode — readers can watch footage of Simon de Pury’s studio visits on their own but a few notes before I discuss the work:

David LaChapelle, Installation view at Basel Miami

Guest Judge David LaChapelle: If there’s another season I guess we can expect Kehinde Wiley to make an appearance in the final episode? Keep in mind LaChapelle is the photographer who was universally made fun of this December at Art Basel over twitter for his photographs depicting Michael Jackson as a modern day martyr. LaChapelle adds art world sale-ability to his art by referencing art historical works, but there’s zero depth to this work. He’s basically a pop/commercial photographer who got lucky and enjoys a healthy art market too. This makes him perfect for Bravo.

The Brooklyn Museum: What work best fits the Brooklyn Museum’s community focused programming? Abdi Farah’s ham fisted work — the best/worst sculptures addressing the issue of race. Coincidentally, the museum today announced its purchase of Unbranded by Hank Willis Thomas. This is definitely the best work the artist has produced (the superhero paintings needed to go) though as far as that sculpture is concerned, he’s also Farah’s closest contemporary in the cheeseball identity art genre of art making.

Things the Art World Would Like to Ignore: As others have already mentioned, even as a wholly falsified representation of the art world, Work of Art brings to light realities many of its workers (including myself) would like to ignore. Beauty and connections benefit the practitioners who have either (contestants Ryan Shultz, Jaclyn Santos and Nicole Nadeau, and judges Bill Powers and Jeanne Greenberg-Rhotayn), liberal lip service masks conservative positions (Jaclyn Santos, Bravo editing, and the shock episode), and abstraction in the art world is shunned (kidding). Guest judge and painter Richard Phillips adds to this list, one of the greatest point of unbalance in the art world: The all powerful curator. “I've been to the Venice Biennale and there are always these huge displays where the artists seem like subcontractors to the celebrity curators in charge,” he told Carolina Miranda recently. “Their work is being seen in this falsified synthetic world. What's exciting about the show is that we are seeing this process in action.”

Phillips spins a positive from the replication of a problem the art world would do well to work against, so needless to say, I don’t share his enthusiasm for this aspect of the show. I still applaud him for identifying it though.

Abdi Farah, Installation view

Problem number one: Why are there no full installation shots of this exhibition? There are a large number of garish portraits on Bravo’s website I can’t seem to find in Bravo’s footage. This makes the exhibition difficult to discuss.

Problem number two: “I walked in and was like, is this about Haiti?” says David lachapelle, “No they’re dancers stretching. No, they’re athletes stretching, cause they’re wearing athletic cloths. So you’re not telling us what it is exactly but there’s such beauty there that I couldn’t stop looking at it.” Um, why do dead black figures wearing sports wear evoke Haiti?

Problem number three: I’d argue the pose Farah’s created suggests the Creation of Adam, which is a little less bleak, but I agree with Jerry Saltz. The exhibition is over determined for my taste: Body bag, fallen figures, darkness. It’s too much. The sketch book at the beginning of the show was a poor decision — it’s not like Farah’s Robert Crumb –and there were a fair number of garish photoshoppy filter paintings on the Bravo site I could do without. Still, as I mentioned earlier, it’s clearly the best work Farah’s produced thus far, and this exhibition at least looks like it was made with some awareness of the art world.

Peregrine Honig, Installation view

Peregrine Honig made a carnival — a response to her experience on Work of Art. The dead baby deers under encased in a vetrine, a contorted decapitated head, legions of vomiting girls. Honig’s conceit was solid and executed well. I even liked the frames, which though boring seemed to represent the sameness, and product vision bravo held for the cast. Still, the work looked a little too ten years ago to me. The cotton candy machine = Exit Art 2000, the baby deer = The Armory Show 2000, the vomiting girls = actually even if these look a little dated, they’re okay. It’s mostly their placement on the page that’s a problem: the compositions are too easily resolved by simply drawing a lone figure in the center of the paper.

Miles Mendenhall, Installation view

Invisible History art never wins on Bravo. Miles Mendenhall’s exhibition was inspired by cell phone pictures he took of security monitor. He shot multiple pictures of an old alcoholic who regularly ate at White Castle. Three days after the photographs were taken, the man died.

To my mind, these abstractions look a little cold. Also the original images should have been excluded. They read like sketch book drawings and are reminiscent of Nao’s placement of Miles face nearby the abstract portrait she made of him for the first challenge. Unfortunately for Mendenhall, I’m told that his piece was very reliant on theatrical spot lighting, which was eliminated for TV audiences. This would have added a completely different layer to the work — possibly even making it the strongest of the lot. It’s hard to say though without seeing the work in person. Farah is the only one who will receive that “honor” and he’s the only one whose art I’m certain needs time to mature.

  • http://underwaterpeoples.com sawyer

    your opinions on David LaChapelle aside – You don’t see the relevance of calling Michael Jackson a modern day martyr? Michael Jackson is the closest thing western society has to a Jesus analogy since, well, The Bible’s original Jesus Analogy.

    may he be praised,
    sawyer

    • http://www.artfagcity.com Art Fag City

      LaChapelle describes it that way himself. It’s from the press release.

  • punj

    Why do you read Abdi’s show as being about race? You sound as cliche in your reading of his work as laChapelle’s Haiti take. Though to be fair, perhaps he explicitly spoke to this and I missed it–in which case, when/where? And I don’t see any similarity between Abdi’s work and Hank Willis Thomas’ at all. I think you’ve got race blinders on when it comes to Abdi–which is a pretty prevalent issue in the “Art World,” which tends to disappointingly provincial on this issue.

    • http://www.artfagcity.com Art Fag City

      He doesn’t say it explicitly, and actually not all the work should be read that way, so I’ve updated the post for clarity. Still, I don’t think this point comes out of left field. The center piece of this show are two fallen figures wearing basketball shoes and athletic wear, and he talks about addressing socio-economic issues. Am I to assume he’s talking about something other than what the images point to simply to be politically correct?

      • punj

        Obviously not. But this sort of kneejerk reaction is exactly the problem–and my point. So, basically you’re suggesting that race automatically equals socioeconomic issues and basketball, and to suggest otherwise is some kind of pc move? That’s sad.

        • http://www.artfagcity.com Art Fag City

          This reduction is as simplistic as what you’re railing against. There are two figures on the floor. One of them is a self portrait. Both are black men, both are wearing basketball clothing (which he tells us earlier in the show). Abdi tells us his work is addressing socio-economic issues. I’ve never said that race automatically equals socioeconomic issues and basketball, but if he includes all three, I think it’s absurd to try and draw a different conclusion.

          • punj

            No railing on my end; I’m making what should be an obvious and very simple point. The figures are black men because Abdi is black and at least one is a self-portait, as I recall him saying. If Abdi was white, they’d likely be white. My point is that you’re assuming that the only reason the figures are black is to point to race; you’d most likely not assume that was the case if they and the artist were white.

            This is basic stuff here.

          • ED

            There were the paintings of the figures in black bags which could suggest an attempt of Abdi to illustrate the suffocating and obscuring results of racist attitudes attached to “blackness.” This entails also the association with sports, i.e. basketball, that is a stereotype associated with “blackness.” I have no idea what he means by socio-economic, as there is utterly nothing about that in the work that was shown. All I can really see in these works is a rather blatant visual commentary on the erasing of individuality in racist attitudes. Yet, it would still appear that Abdi is falling victim to exactly the criticism that Punj is accusing AFC’s review to be involved with. Abdi offers nothing more than, “It sucks that a lot of people probably just see me as some black guy.” He offers nothing more of who or what makes him more than just that, why we shouldn’t just see him as someone obsessed with “black” identity as that is precisely what he is trafficking in with these pieces and some of his earlier work, or makes explicit a target for the labeling racism involved. In other words, his work is defeatist, reductivist, and superficial. And speaking of kneejerk, Punj, you seem pretty quick to criticize and yet offer absolutely no other interpretation of the work in question or any more nuanced treatment of racism at all. If it is such an important issue to you, why do you treat it so flippantly?

            Abdi’s earlier sculpture of the 3 heads was described by himself as being about how African-American males are time bombs due to socio-economic issues. That is as cliche, stereotyped, and reductivist as it comes.

          • http://www.judithannbraun.com Judith Braun

            So I see two black spray painted male humanoids sprawled dead on the floor with basket ball shorts and sneakers on and the African American male artist tells me it’s a self portrait and about socio-economic issues. The only way I wouldn’t think it had a racial component would to be from another planet.

            But personally I don’t care what the artists tells me it’s about. I usually want to run for a body bag when the artist or someone else starts telling me what the work is about. It’s like nails on a blackboard. Not that I’m so quick to get the work on my own, or that it should just be purely visceral, but if someone is going to shove their story-line down my throat, or up on the wall, or wherever, I only hope that the actual work itself will ultimately be so rich and deep that it mocks the verbiage.

            Yes, I write statements too, and I talk about my work too. But please feel free to shut me up…as has been known to happen! :-)

          • http://www.artfagcity.com Art Fag City

            Punj – Please drop the condescending tone. This is a conversation. Your points will better received without the suggestion that everything you are saying is so obvious that I must be stupid not to know it.

            In any event, I don’t agree with this line of logic. It’s not just that the figures are black and I never made such a ridiculous claim. It’s that it’s connected to a familiar narrative of African American experience. I didn’t make that narrative up, I’m just able to identify it when I see it.

        • http://www.jebaker.com jebaker

          Abdi included a self-portrait, which immediately brings issues of identity into the work. I think it’s a mistake to read this work without taking into consideration his gender or race identifications.

    • sarae

      Oh, come on. It’s so obvious, it’s hitting you in the face with brute force. Of course not every person of color makes art about race issues all the time (nor are they required to at any point in their careers), but this exhibit clearly dealt with race and class issues, just as his bomb-heads did.

      • http://akacocolopez.com coco

        The ‘art world’ never gets tired of work that deals with issues of whiteness…

        • aka

          Ha ha! Well said.

  • http://underwaterpeoples.com sawyer

    your opinions on David LaChapelle aside – You don’t see the relevance of calling Michael Jackson a modern day martyr? Michael Jackson is the closest thing western society has to a Jesus analogy since, well, The Bible’s original Jesus Analogy.

    may he be praised,
    sawyer

    • http://www.artfagcity.com Art Fag City

      LaChapelle describes it that way himself. It’s from the press release.

  • punj

    Why do you read Abdi’s show as being about race? You sound as cliche in your reading of his work as laChapelle’s Haiti take. Though to be fair, perhaps he explicitly spoke to this and I missed it–in which case, when/where? And I don’t see any similarity between Abdi’s work and Hank Willis Thomas’ at all. I think you’ve got race blinders on when it comes to Abdi–which is a pretty prevalent issue in the “Art World,” which tends to disappointingly provincial on this issue.

    • http://www.artfagcity.com Art Fag City

      He doesn’t say it explicitly, and actually not all the work should be read that way, so I’ve updated the post for clarity. Still, I don’t think this point comes out of left field. The center piece of this show are two fallen figures wearing basketball shoes and athletic wear, and he talks about addressing socio-economic issues. Am I to assume he’s talking about something other than what the images point to simply to be politically correct?

      • punj

        Obviously not. But this sort of kneejerk reaction is exactly the problem–and my point. So, basically you’re suggesting that race automatically equals socioeconomic issues and basketball, and to suggest otherwise is some kind of pc move? That’s sad.

        • http://www.artfagcity.com Art Fag City

          This reduction is as simplistic as what you’re railing against. There are two figures on the floor. One of them is a self portrait. Both are black men, both are wearing basketball clothing (which he tells us earlier in the show). Abdi tells us his work is addressing socio-economic issues. I’ve never said that race automatically equals socioeconomic issues and basketball, but if he includes all three, I think it’s absurd to try and draw a different conclusion.

          • punj

            No railing on my end; I’m making what should be an obvious and very simple point. The figures are black men because Abdi is black and at least one is a self-portait, as I recall him saying. If Abdi was white, they’d likely be white. My point is that you’re assuming that the only reason the figures are black is to point to race; you’d most likely not assume that was the case if they and the artist were white.

            This is basic stuff here.

          • http://bedhead777@mac.com ED

            There were the paintings of the figures in black bags which could suggest an attempt of Abdi to illustrate the suffocating and obscuring results of racist attitudes attached to “blackness.” This entails also the association with sports, i.e. basketball, that is a stereotype associated with “blackness.” I have no idea what he means by socio-economic, as there is utterly nothing about that in the work that was shown. All I can really see in these works is a rather blatant visual commentary on the erasing of individuality in racist attitudes. Yet, it would still appear that Abdi is falling victim to exactly the criticism that Punj is accusing AFC’s review to be involved with. Abdi offers nothing more than, “It sucks that a lot of people probably just see me as some black guy.” He offers nothing more of who or what makes him more than just that, why we shouldn’t just see him as someone obsessed with “black” identity as that is precisely what he is trafficking in with these pieces and some of his earlier work, or makes explicit a target for the labeling racism involved. In other words, his work is defeatist, reductivist, and superficial. And speaking of kneejerk, Punj, you seem pretty quick to criticize and yet offer absolutely no other interpretation of the work in question or any more nuanced treatment of racism at all. If it is such an important issue to you, why do you treat it so flippantly?

            Abdi’s earlier sculpture of the 3 heads was described by himself as being about how African-American males are time bombs due to socio-economic issues. That is as cliche, stereotyped, and reductivist as it comes.

          • http://www.judithannbraun.com Judith Braun

            So I see two black spray painted male humanoids sprawled dead on the floor with basket ball shorts and sneakers on and the African American male artist tells me it’s a self portrait and about socio-economic issues. The only way I wouldn’t think it had a racial component would to be from another planet.

            But personally I don’t care what the artists tells me it’s about. I usually want to run for a body bag when the artist or someone else starts telling me what the work is about. It’s like nails on a blackboard. Not that I’m so quick to get the work on my own, or that it should just be purely visceral, but if someone is going to shove their story-line down my throat, or up on the wall, or wherever, I only hope that the actual work itself will ultimately be so rich and deep that it mocks the verbiage.

            Yes, I write statements too, and I talk about my work too. But please feel free to shut me up…as has been known to happen! :-)

          • http://www.artfagcity.com Art Fag City

            Punj – Please drop the condescending tone. This is a conversation. Your points will better received without the suggestion that everything you are saying is so obvious that I must be stupid not to know it.

            In any event, I don’t agree with this line of logic. It’s not just that the figures are black and I never made such a ridiculous claim. It’s that it’s connected to a familiar narrative of African American experience. I didn’t make that narrative up, I’m just able to identify it when I see it.

        • http://www.jebaker.com jebaker

          Abdi included a self-portrait, which immediately brings issues of identity into the work. I think it’s a mistake to read this work without taking into consideration his gender or race identifications.

    • sarae

      Oh, come on. It’s so obvious, it’s hitting you in the face with brute force. Of course not every person of color makes art about race issues all the time (nor are they required to at any point in their careers), but this exhibit clearly dealt with race and class issues, just as his bomb-heads did.

      • http://akacocolopez.com coco

        The ‘art world’ never gets tired of work that deals with issues of whiteness…

        • aka

          Ha ha! Well said.

  • jai

    You never put the name of the winner in the headline before, why today? I guess the winner of the show as a whole (and therefore the winner of a huge, notable prize) is technically news and not a spoiler, but finding out who won accidentally via Google Reader two hours before I could go home and watch it myself was a bummer, especially after making a conscious effort to avoid finding out all day.

    That said, I’ve looked forward to your recaps every week, and I hope that you will write about future seasons of the show.

    • http://www.artfagcity.com Art Fag City

      Sorry about that — I put it in the headline because I figured it was news and the end of the day.

      • jai

        It wasn’t the end of the workday on the West Coast!

        • http://www.artfagcity.com Art Fag City

          Ugh….definitely a mistake on my part. It won’t happen again.

  • jai

    You never put the name of the winner in the headline before, why today? I guess the winner of the show as a whole (and therefore the winner of a huge, notable prize) is technically news and not a spoiler, but finding out who won accidentally via Google Reader two hours before I could go home and watch it myself was a bummer, especially after making a conscious effort to avoid finding out all day.

    That said, I’ve looked forward to your recaps every week, and I hope that you will write about future seasons of the show.

    • http://www.artfagcity.com Art Fag City

      Sorry about that — I put it in the headline because I figured it was news and the end of the day.

      • jai

        It wasn’t the end of the workday on the West Coast!

        • http://www.artfagcity.com Art Fag City

          Ugh….definitely a mistake on my part. It won’t happen again.

  • m

    Abdi, i gotta hand it to him…he pulled out a great show when i least expected it. I was rooting for Peregrine. Miles really screwed it up! Listen, if it looks like a checkerboard quilt it is a checkerboard quilt…no matter how many dead homeless men you have behind it. LAME

    • Jeff Evans

      I thought Miles’ work resembled the plaid shirt he was wearing in part of the episode. It was surprising that he didn’t do any 3-D work, since he’d had such success with it in the challenges.

  • m

    Abdi, i gotta hand it to him…he pulled out a great show when i least expected it. I was rooting for Peregrine. Miles really screwed it up! Listen, if it looks like a checkerboard quilt it is a checkerboard quilt…no matter how many dead homeless men you have behind it. LAME

    • Jeff Evans

      I thought Miles’ work resembled the plaid shirt he was wearing in part of the episode. It was surprising that he didn’t do any 3-D work, since he’d had such success with it in the challenges.

  • http://www.daingore.com/ Dain Q Gore

    It’s interesting to read their statements: they are so important as they are the first impression the viewer will get. Mile’s was way too vague–why didn’t he just type out exactly what he said to the judges? That would have been so much more powerful…inform the viewer, even just a little! Abdi’s was a quote, which can be dangerous…or win you the show. As for Peregrine’s, this one was simply the best, it informed the viewer and made you actually get ready to “feel” something. Which is saying a lot.

    • http://www.artfagcity.com Art Fag City

      Peregrine has the most skill with language of the three I think.

  • http://www.daingore.com/ Dain Q Gore

    It’s interesting to read their statements: they are so important as they are the first impression the viewer will get. Mile’s was way too vague–why didn’t he just type out exactly what he said to the judges? That would have been so much more powerful…inform the viewer, even just a little! Abdi’s was a quote, which can be dangerous…or win you the show. As for Peregrine’s, this one was simply the best, it informed the viewer and made you actually get ready to “feel” something. Which is saying a lot.

    • http://www.artfagcity.com Art Fag City

      Peregrine has the most skill with language of the three I think.

  • Matt

    Abdi winning sets the standard for the sort of contestants Bravo wants for future seasons. Young, young artists fresh from art school who have lots of room to grow within the parameters of the show and thus take the audience along on that “journey.” This is the successful pattern reality tv shows take. Established or even mid-career artists are less capable of engaging a TV audience searching for the sort of growth artists have in their early and mid twenties. Thank goodness this show searches for “the next great artist” and doesn’t kid itself with aspirations of discovering brilliance, genius, or otherwise. A “great artist” is something that really anyone can live up to, especially in the eyes of a mother.

    • http://www.jebaker.com jebaker

      I agree. Additionally, choosing an artist like Abdi – one who has the most room for growth – allows the producers to take credit for the artists’ success. Even personality-wise Abdi is more likely to grant the show more responsibility for future success than Peregrine or Miles, who are much more confident in their work. In this regard, it shouldn’t have been a surprise that Abdi won. I would also argue that, though the work may not have been as strong as the other two artists, he seemed to have the most effectively curated space. This underscored two of the points in the original post: 1. Why is there not better documentation of the installations? And 2. The role of the curator (what was the curatorial process in setting up these shows? Bravo showed an installation crew, but I wonder if the contestants were responsible for and judged on the installation quality or if they were able/required to consult with a curator.)

      • http://www.artfagcity.com Art Fag City

        I need to install a like button for comments like jebaker’s.

        • http://www.caseycurran.com casey curran

          Bravo did show Miles directing installation crews with where to hang things and in which order. I also don’t believe any curator would allow a sketchbook to serve as a prelude to an exhibition like Abdis, which seemed to be relatively strait forward. Maybe writings or musings but not process sketches of the work you’re about to see. With that said the Figures were amazing, the painting i feel like I’ve seen.

    • LiberationNYC

      Great point. I was bummed, yet not surprised, when the older artists were voted off the island first. Glorifying youth doesn’t impress me, it comes free. Decades of fine tuning your craft and making magnificent work does. The downside to this of course is we’d probably have to listen to the older artists whine about their legacy week after week and that doesn’t make good TV.

      • http://www.judithannbraun.com Judith Braun

        @ LiberationNYC: That’s so true and funny: “we’d probably have to listen to the older artists whine about their legacy week after week”. Yuck. I only whine about other whiners…And look what happene!!…this youthful group had it’s own version of whining…”I have OCD, I have sleeping problems, I get overstimulated” (Miles)….”People don’t take me seriously, men are always staring at me making me feel vulnerable” (Jaclyn)…”I never went to art school, the art world is so snobby” (Erik)…”I’m from a small town and people think I’m too commercial cause I’m a commercial photographer” (Mark),…”I’m a one trick pony” (Ryan.)

        • budd dees

          I want to say that reading your comments here have been a delight, Judith. But let’s not kid ourselves about ‘the older cast talking about their legacy’ not including you. “the ‘pussy’ work put me on the map”, “i’ve been known for these finger patterns”, and “in my work I write words backwards” are just a couple instances in which you attempted to rest on your laurels during the challenges. I agree with your assessment of the younger artists, though.

          • http://www.judithannbraun.com Judith Braun

            @budd dees: I’m glad you like reading my comments, Thank you! Now for this subject….I didn’t say anything about artists “resting on their laurels”. I said that I didn’t “whine about my legacy”. Whining, to me, is like saying “I didn’t get a fair shake… or you should give me more respect for what I did twenty years ago.” One of your references is to a clip from my “bio-video” that we were asked to make as part of our audition process, in which I skim through my career steps (“put me on the map”). Another is me telling Simon that I am using fingerprint patterns that I’ve been developing in my work”. That’s not whining is it?. And actually the backward Edirp and Ecidujerp piece was the FIRST time I ever wrote backwards…(mirror reversal is different, it’s symmetry). Anyway, in the second challenge I did my “crazy mess” unraveling of wires project, totally out of the blue. I’m just saying, I don’t think you can find me anywhere whining about my legacy. Though I do keep an eye on how history is getting written, and what goes in or is left out, but that’s from the point of view of being an active practitioner and participant, not to complain or whine. I’d like to share my Bio Video link with you… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A83QFW2QkqA and you’ll see the whole thing in context. Enjoy.

  • Matt

    Abdi winning sets the standard for the sort of contestants Bravo wants for future seasons. Young, young artists fresh from art school who have lots of room to grow within the parameters of the show and thus take the audience along on that “journey.” This is the successful pattern reality tv shows take. Established or even mid-career artists are less capable of engaging a TV audience searching for the sort of growth artists have in their early and mid twenties. Thank goodness this show searches for “the next great artist” and doesn’t kid itself with aspirations of discovering brilliance, genius, or otherwise. A “great artist” is something that really anyone can live up to, especially in the eyes of a mother.

    • http://www.jebaker.com jebaker

      I agree. Additionally, choosing an artist like Abdi – one who has the most room for growth – allows the producers to take credit for the artists’ success. Even personality-wise Abdi is more likely to grant the show more responsibility for future success than Peregrine or Miles, who are much more confident in their work. In this regard, it shouldn’t have been a surprise that Abdi won. I would also argue that, though the work may not have been as strong as the other two artists, he seemed to have the most effectively curated space. This underscored two of the points in the original post: 1. Why is there not better documentation of the installations? And 2. The role of the curator (what was the curatorial process in setting up these shows? Bravo showed an installation crew, but I wonder if the contestants were responsible for and judged on the installation quality or if they were able/required to consult with a curator.)

      • http://www.artfagcity.com Art Fag City

        I need to install a like button for comments like jebaker’s.

        • http://www.caseycurran.com casey curran

          Bravo did show Miles directing installation crews with where to hang things and in which order. I also don’t believe any curator would allow a sketchbook to serve as a prelude to an exhibition like Abdis, which seemed to be relatively strait forward. Maybe writings or musings but not process sketches of the work you’re about to see. With that said the Figures were amazing, the painting i feel like I’ve seen.

    • LiberationNYC

      Great point. I was bummed, yet not surprised, when the older artists were voted off the island first. Glorifying youth doesn’t impress me, it comes free. Decades of fine tuning your craft and making magnificent work does. The downside to this of course is we’d probably have to listen to the older artists whine about their legacy week after week and that doesn’t make good TV.

      • http://www.judithannbraun.com Judith Braun

        @ LiberationNYC: That’s so true and funny: “we’d probably have to listen to the older artists whine about their legacy week after week”. Yuck. I only whine about other whiners…And look what happene!!…this youthful group had it’s own version of whining…”I have OCD, I have sleeping problems, I get overstimulated” (Miles)….”People don’t take me seriously, men are always staring at me making me feel vulnerable” (Jaclyn)…”I never went to art school, the art world is so snobby” (Erik)…”I’m from a small town and people think I’m too commercial cause I’m a commercial photographer” (Mark),…”I’m a one trick pony” (Ryan.)

        • budd dees

          I want to say that reading your comments here have been a delight, Judith. But let’s not kid ourselves about ‘the older cast talking about their legacy’ not including you. “the ‘pussy’ work put me on the map”, “i’ve been known for these finger patterns”, and “in my work I write words backwards” are just a couple instances in which you attempted to rest on your laurels during the challenges. I agree with your assessment of the younger artists, though.

          • http://www.judithannbraun.com Judith Braun

            @budd dees: I’m glad you like reading my comments, Thank you! Now for this subject….I didn’t say anything about artists “resting on their laurels”. I said that I didn’t “whine about my legacy”. Whining, to me, is like saying “I didn’t get a fair shake… or you should give me more respect for what I did twenty years ago.” One of your references is to a clip from my “bio-video” that we were asked to make as part of our audition process, in which I skim through my career steps (“put me on the map”). Another is me telling Simon that I am using fingerprint patterns that I’ve been developing in my work”. That’s not whining is it?. And actually the backward Edirp and Ecidujerp piece was the FIRST time I ever wrote backwards…(mirror reversal is different, it’s symmetry). Anyway, in the second challenge I did my “crazy mess” unraveling of wires project, totally out of the blue. I’m just saying, I don’t think you can find me anywhere whining about my legacy. Though I do keep an eye on how history is getting written, and what goes in or is left out, but that’s from the point of view of being an active practitioner and participant, not to complain or whine. I’d like to share my Bio Video link with you… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A83QFW2QkqA and you’ll see the whole thing in context. Enjoy.

  • http://oygreenart.blogspot.com royston

    people will always respond to the abject figure in art whether contemporary or art-historical…peregrine has some skill and ideas but it was like eating too much candy…miles kind of blew it…i’d like to see some work that was a hybrid of all three…disturbing colorful and conceptual all at once…i really doubt that abdi, nice guy that he is, will make much impact in the nyc art world…at the very least maybe joe six-pack and sally housecoat will have their eyes opened just a little bit to art and how it is made and maybe actually go to a gallery someday…anything to subvert the elitism of the art world is a good thing…

  • http://oygreenart.blogspot.com royston

    people will always respond to the abject figure in art whether contemporary or art-historical…peregrine has some skill and ideas but it was like eating too much candy…miles kind of blew it…i’d like to see some work that was a hybrid of all three…disturbing colorful and conceptual all at once…i really doubt that abdi, nice guy that he is, will make much impact in the nyc art world…at the very least maybe joe six-pack and sally housecoat will have their eyes opened just a little bit to art and how it is made and maybe actually go to a gallery someday…anything to subvert the elitism of the art world is a good thing…

  • KatieK

    Maybe Robert Crumb should be a guest judge sometime next season (just announced). That would be a little different from what they have had. Plus he seems to hate everything, which would create a lot of drama.

  • KatieK

    Maybe Robert Crumb should be a guest judge sometime next season (just announced). That would be a little different from what they have had. Plus he seems to hate everything, which would create a lot of drama.

  • http://www.darteboard.com j.d. hastings

    I agree that it is very hard to judge the results of the show because I have very little feeling of what each show was like. In particular I have very little feel for what Miles did. He had his original photos and then the repetitive reproductions of them, but what else? It feels like he had a quarter of the work Peregrine managed. Ultimately though, I feel that his color-phobia cost him. The patterned prints looked exactly like the piece he made during the Children’s Museum episode- a piece that left the judges indifferent. Without color they ended up looking like blown up photocopies to me. You could argue that heavy concept warrants decreased aesthetic considerations, but was the concept enough to trump lackluster presentation? Apparently not.

    When he lost, I read his awkward reaction as his disbelief at not winning. All of us thought he was a shoo in because of Saltz’s (and the producers’) over the top admiration, but ultimately it felt like they let LaChappelle’s judgement trump Saltz. In fact Saltz noticeably disagreed with the final results as his fellow judges went against him. It makes me wonder about what the process has done to his own image. Even if I’m not really enthused by the results (and wasn’t excited by any of these final artists), it was nice that they were willing to go against this apparent favoritism.

    Ultimately, it may be the best thing for Miles- he didn’t land the ultimate prize and find himself thrust into the artworld on the merits of a television persona and manipulation. If he learns to put the work first and continues to develop he may make something of himself over time in a much more sincere and warranted means.

    Separate from Miles who revisted his less succesful work (aesthetically anyways), I felt both Abdi and Peregrine revisited there most succesful pieces from the series. They took the cues from the judges for the directions they should pursue. So abdi’s show was most similar in material, appearance and theme to his shock art work, while Peregrine’s carnival in spirit and execution also resembled her Children’s Museum piece.

    Frankly I don’t know who deserved to win based on the work because I didn’t see it, but of all the artists on the show Abdi, the youngest contestant (I think) showed the greatest, and most sincere, desire to grow. He was criticized for that in one episode, and if we’re to believe this show was about finding “the next great artist,” the need for growth isn’t the trait you look for, but I feel that he will use the opportunity towards that goal. Because he shows this respect for the art itself, I’m fine with this result.

    Your excerpt on Things the Art World Would Like to Ignore is fantastic. If nothing else, if this show leads to honest discussion of this nature about the artworld, then maybe it wasn’t the soul draining experience it seemed like at times.

    • Jeff Evans

      It was also odd that Miles didn’t make any 3-D construction for the finale, since he’d had such success with that all season. A plywood, or perhaps cardboard, coffin would have been appropriate, especially if that is how they bury homeless people in Minneapolis. A cardboard coffin would also comment on living in a cardboard box. Its almost as if Miles wanted to lose the competition.

      • juddfan

        Brilliant suggestion!

  • http://www.darteboard.com j.d. hastings

    I agree that it is very hard to judge the results of the show because I have very little feeling of what each show was like. In particular I have very little feel for what Miles did. He had his original photos and then the repetitive reproductions of them, but what else? It feels like he had a quarter of the work Peregrine managed. Ultimately though, I feel that his color-phobia cost him. The patterned prints looked exactly like the piece he made during the Children’s Museum episode- a piece that left the judges indifferent. Without color they ended up looking like blown up photocopies to me. You could argue that heavy concept warrants decreased aesthetic considerations, but was the concept enough to trump lackluster presentation? Apparently not.

    When he lost, I read his awkward reaction as his disbelief at not winning. All of us thought he was a shoo in because of Saltz’s (and the producers’) over the top admiration, but ultimately it felt like they let LaChappelle’s judgement trump Saltz. In fact Saltz noticeably disagreed with the final results as his fellow judges went against him. It makes me wonder about what the process has done to his own image. Even if I’m not really enthused by the results (and wasn’t excited by any of these final artists), it was nice that they were willing to go against this apparent favoritism.

    Ultimately, it may be the best thing for Miles- he didn’t land the ultimate prize and find himself thrust into the artworld on the merits of a television persona and manipulation. If he learns to put the work first and continues to develop he may make something of himself over time in a much more sincere and warranted means.

    Separate from Miles who revisted his less succesful work (aesthetically anyways), I felt both Abdi and Peregrine revisited there most succesful pieces from the series. They took the cues from the judges for the directions they should pursue. So abdi’s show was most similar in material, appearance and theme to his shock art work, while Peregrine’s carnival in spirit and execution also resembled her Children’s Museum piece.

    Frankly I don’t know who deserved to win based on the work because I didn’t see it, but of all the artists on the show Abdi, the youngest contestant (I think) showed the greatest, and most sincere, desire to grow. He was criticized for that in one episode, and if we’re to believe this show was about finding “the next great artist,” the need for growth isn’t the trait you look for, but I feel that he will use the opportunity towards that goal. Because he shows this respect for the art itself, I’m fine with this result.

    Your excerpt on Things the Art World Would Like to Ignore is fantastic. If nothing else, if this show leads to honest discussion of this nature about the artworld, then maybe it wasn’t the soul draining experience it seemed like at times.

    • Jeff Evans

      It was also odd that Miles didn’t make any 3-D construction for the finale, since he’d had such success with that all season. A plywood, or perhaps cardboard, coffin would have been appropriate, especially if that is how they bury homeless people in Minneapolis. A cardboard coffin would also comment on living in a cardboard box. Its almost as if Miles wanted to lose the competition.

      • juddfan

        Brilliant suggestion!

  • Stead

    It seems like Abdi’s fear of representing genitals is just what Bravo and the Brooklyn Museum were looking for…

    • Becca D’Bus

      I thought I saw a little dick action in the photoshoppy blue painting.

    • http://www.judithannbraun.com Judith Braun

      @ Stead: I’m not sure it has to be considered Abdi’s “fear of representing genitals”, just because he chose to cover them. I know there’s probably still mileage to be gained in showing genitals, (and I have used them in my own work), but I think it has (often not always) become either dated, easy, or just plain empty as an element in art, and that representing them doesn’t imply courage or casual self confidence. So you may (likely) be right about Bravo, or Brooklyn’s Museums interests, and actually I have no idea what Abdi’s actual fears or reasons are, except to speculate based on his references to christianity and god and his mom. But I just wanted to speak up for the possibility that modesty about exposing one’s genitals doesn’t automatically imply fear.

      • Stead

        Your right Judith. I guess I just thought it was funny how he was going on about the beauty of the figure and it being god’s greatest creation and then going and throwing a pair of shorts or a flat color over it. I dunno. I forget that the characters are real people too.

        • http://www.judithannbraun.com Judith Braun

          Well your point is well taken too…that if the human body is so beautiful than why NOT show it all…or why not just those particular parts.

  • Stead

    It seems like Abdi’s fear of representing genitals is just what Bravo and the Brooklyn Museum were looking for…

    • Becca D’Bus

      I thought I saw a little dick action in the photoshoppy blue painting.

    • http://www.judithannbraun.com Judith Braun

      @ Stead: I’m not sure it has to be considered Abdi’s “fear of representing genitals”, just because he chose to cover them. I know there’s probably still mileage to be gained in showing genitals, (and I have used them in my own work), but I think it has (often not always) become either dated, easy, or just plain empty as an element in art, and that representing them doesn’t imply courage or casual self confidence. So you may (likely) be right about Bravo, or Brooklyn’s Museums interests, and actually I have no idea what Abdi’s actual fears or reasons are, except to speculate based on his references to christianity and god and his mom. But I just wanted to speak up for the possibility that modesty about exposing one’s genitals doesn’t automatically imply fear.

      • Stead

        Your right Judith. I guess I just thought it was funny how he was going on about the beauty of the figure and it being god’s greatest creation and then going and throwing a pair of shorts or a flat color over it. I dunno. I forget that the characters are real people too.

        • http://www.judithannbraun.com Judith Braun

          Well your point is well taken too…that if the human body is so beautiful than why NOT show it all…or why not just those particular parts.

  • palden

    WOW, just wow. Once Miles was out I was certain Peregrine had it in her coat pocket. I thought she went above and beyond her “illustrative” drawings and created a show with a the widest spectrum. I was really excited to see her usurp Miles, whom MOST of us thought already won the show. If anything Peregrine can walk away from the show with a new approach to her work (that may or may not have happened otherwise).

    Miles. I don’t think he was expecting any of the others contestants to do so well. I feel he may have gotten cocky and didn’t push himself to make those elusive “spectacular” works. The dead homeless guy essentially carried the weight of his work. Once he realized that was the crux of his explanation, he could go on from that point. Unfortunately the resultant work was flat and distant from its origin. Just like every other challenge, he has an initial idea and makes it conform to his general approach to his work. Honestly those abstracted grids are just that in the end, they could have been been based off anything. It’s too formulaic and easy for him. There is no romance and its too dependent on structure. Having said that I did enjoy the black hole, but I could care less about the context.

    I have a mild conspiracy theory about the motive of the show and Abdi’s win. Having perused a few non-insider art blogs, I’ve found that Abdi is BIG favorite. And this is based off his work from the challenges. Barf. It’s true though, his work is the most accessible/likable to those who are not practicing artists or involved in the art world (I think my mom would want him to win). From watching the show, its pretty apparent that its not meant to cater to a seriously critical and progressive sense of art. The show exists to get ratings, make money and keep existing. That means the miniscule audience of art people are set aside for the broader public. The shows creative director Justin Reichman even states ” The big idea on the show is that art can be a little esoteric and no immediately graspable and what we want to do is make art accessible”. Its ever present conundrum; do we keep the bar high in hopes that the general consensus will be raised or do we safely cater to the status quo. Its fucking reality tv. A step away from “Flavor of Love.” I deeply enjoyed watching the show (and will continue to do so) but alas its just an shade of what I hoped it could be.

    So in summation, I think that Abdi won in order to get more viewers from outside the art world to watch the show. I think that’s what’s needed in order for Bravo’s producers to green light a second season.

    (please excuse the grammar – I’ve been playing the WANGA drinking game)

    • Becca D’Bus

      You make a good point
      BUT
      I find the notion of art world insiders’ levels or standards being higher than non-art world insiders’ to be problematic.
      In general, people commenting on this site have seen more, but that doesn’t mean the (Nina Garcia will love me for this) taste level is higher, just different than what the man in the street sees.
      And I do think that there needs to be a conversation about how these things are different and how they inform each other.

      • http://sammckinniss.com Sam

        Becca,
        Regarding art in the art world, insiders’ taste levels are higher than your typical viewer, necessarily because its their world to work in, and livelihoods in art depend on discerning tastes for high art.

        A friend, someone basically uninvolved in the art world, said he liked Abdi to win because he felt he was the most “honest.” Since when is honesty what we admire in works of art? Meh.

    • http://www.jebaker.com jebaker

      I was discussing the show with someone today who said that Miles was a carpenter and could build things, but they didn’t know if he was an artist because they never saw him draw or paint anything. It is unfortunate how many people view art this way. Hearing this comment from someone who has followed the show made me wonder if the critics were right all along about reality tv’s manufactured drama obscuring any real communication of the contemporary artist’s process. In the end, I am still happy that I am having conversations about art with people in my life that I don’t usually share reference points with because they have not studied art history or don’t regularly attend gallery and museum shows.

      • http://www.judithannbraun.com Judith Braun

        funny, I was just walking on Prince St and a family, (parents, a teenager, and a grandma) stopped me because they recognized me from the show. (yes, it happens!) Anyway, they’re visiting from TEXAS, not artists at all, but thought it would be fun to watch the show to see what those “art people” really do? They totally enjoyed the show, (and said they liked my Edirp and Ecidujerp piece!) but it was clear that they MOSTLY could relate to representational work. I offered the idea that artists had already figured out how to draw, so now our job was to explore the unexplored…and then Grandma piped in…”yeah, like with your imagination!” Lo and behold she had liked Miles wood contraption in Episode 9 but she’d been afraid to say so to her family! ..so here she was coming out as a conceptual art lover! It was so cute!

        • racingroom

          Your Edirp and Ecidujerp was easily the best piece of the series. As an autonomous work it would have drawn me over in a gallery, but it also functioned as a spirited reaction to that particularly irrelevant challenge.

          • Josh

            That Edirp and Ecidujerp piece might have drawn me over if it was in a craft supply store next to the yarn and do it yourself plastic jewelry set aisle.

          • http://www.judithannbraun.com Judith Braun

            Thank you racingroom! did you get an Edirp and Ecidujerp t-shirt? friend me on FB and send me your mailing address….!!

    • juddfan

      Abdi’s popularity had nothing to do with his win. The show was wrapped long before filming. I guess I just can’t wrap my little undiscerning and un-art educated mind around how awesome a room full of black and white grids are. I did enjoy Peregrin’s show, but I must simply be missing something in her doll head and pony show that you “practicing artists or involved in the art world” types are all about.

      I thought Abdi won because his show was the best . . .

      Based on these comments I’ll stick with my uneducated types and enjoy the show with the status quo. I especially love to grovel in our ignorance while you “art” types projectile vomit disdain at us. I’ll tell your Mom you said Hi!

  • palden

    WOW, just wow. Once Miles was out I was certain Peregrine had it in her coat pocket. I thought she went above and beyond her “illustrative” drawings and created a show with a the widest spectrum. I was really excited to see her usurp Miles, whom MOST of us thought already won the show. If anything Peregrine can walk away from the show with a new approach to her work (that may or may not have happened otherwise).

    Miles. I don’t think he was expecting any of the others contestants to do so well. I feel he may have gotten cocky and didn’t push himself to make those elusive “spectacular” works. The dead homeless guy essentially carried the weight of his work. Once he realized that was the crux of his explanation, he could go on from that point. Unfortunately the resultant work was flat and distant from its origin. Just like every other challenge, he has an initial idea and makes it conform to his general approach to his work. Honestly those abstracted grids are just that in the end, they could have been been based off anything. It’s too formulaic and easy for him. There is no romance and its too dependent on structure. Having said that I did enjoy the black hole, but I could care less about the context.

    I have a mild conspiracy theory about the motive of the show and Abdi’s win. Having perused a few non-insider art blogs, I’ve found that Abdi is BIG favorite. And this is based off his work from the challenges. Barf. It’s true though, his work is the most accessible/likable to those who are not practicing artists or involved in the art world (I think my mom would want him to win). From watching the show, its pretty apparent that its not meant to cater to a seriously critical and progressive sense of art. The show exists to get ratings, make money and keep existing. That means the miniscule audience of art people are set aside for the broader public. The shows creative director Justin Reichman even states ” The big idea on the show is that art can be a little esoteric and no immediately graspable and what we want to do is make art accessible”. Its ever present conundrum; do we keep the bar high in hopes that the general consensus will be raised or do we safely cater to the status quo. Its fucking reality tv. A step away from “Flavor of Love.” I deeply enjoyed watching the show (and will continue to do so) but alas its just an shade of what I hoped it could be.

    So in summation, I think that Abdi won in order to get more viewers from outside the art world to watch the show. I think that’s what’s needed in order for Bravo’s producers to green light a second season.

    (please excuse the grammar – I’ve been playing the WANGA drinking game)

    • Becca D’Bus

      You make a good point
      BUT
      I find the notion of art world insiders’ levels or standards being higher than non-art world insiders’ to be problematic.
      In general, people commenting on this site have seen more, but that doesn’t mean the (Nina Garcia will love me for this) taste level is higher, just different than what the man in the street sees.
      And I do think that there needs to be a conversation about how these things are different and how they inform each other.

      • http://sammckinniss.com Sam

        Becca,
        Regarding art in the art world, insiders’ taste levels are higher than your typical viewer, necessarily because its their world to work in, and livelihoods in art depend on discerning tastes for high art.

        A friend, someone basically uninvolved in the art world, said he liked Abdi to win because he felt he was the most “honest.” Since when is honesty what we admire in works of art? Meh.

    • http://www.jebaker.com jebaker

      I was discussing the show with someone today who said that Miles was a carpenter and could build things, but they didn’t know if he was an artist because they never saw him draw or paint anything. It is unfortunate how many people view art this way. Hearing this comment from someone who has followed the show made me wonder if the critics were right all along about reality tv’s manufactured drama obscuring any real communication of the contemporary artist’s process. In the end, I am still happy that I am having conversations about art with people in my life that I don’t usually share reference points with because they have not studied art history or don’t regularly attend gallery and museum shows.

      • http://www.judithannbraun.com Judith Braun

        funny, I was just walking on Prince St and a family, (parents, a teenager, and a grandma) stopped me because they recognized me from the show. (yes, it happens!) Anyway, they’re visiting from TEXAS, not artists at all, but thought it would be fun to watch the show to see what those “art people” really do? They totally enjoyed the show, (and said they liked my Edirp and Ecidujerp piece!) but it was clear that they MOSTLY could relate to representational work. I offered the idea that artists had already figured out how to draw, so now our job was to explore the unexplored…and then Grandma piped in…”yeah, like with your imagination!” Lo and behold she had liked Miles wood contraption in Episode 9 but she’d been afraid to say so to her family! ..so here she was coming out as a conceptual art lover! It was so cute!

        • racingroom

          Your Edirp and Ecidujerp was easily the best piece of the series. As an autonomous work it would have drawn me over in a gallery, but it also functioned as a spirited reaction to that particularly irrelevant challenge.

          • Josh

            That Edirp and Ecidujerp piece might have drawn me over if it was in a craft supply store next to the yarn and do it yourself plastic jewelry set aisle.

          • http://www.judithannbraun.com Judith Braun

            Thank you racingroom! did you get an Edirp and Ecidujerp t-shirt? friend me on FB and send me your mailing address….!!

    • juddfan

      Abdi’s popularity had nothing to do with his win. The show was wrapped long before filming. I guess I just can’t wrap my little undiscerning and un-art educated mind around how awesome a room full of black and white grids are. I did enjoy Peregrin’s show, but I must simply be missing something in her doll head and pony show that you “practicing artists or involved in the art world” types are all about.

      I thought Abdi won because his show was the best . . .

      Based on these comments I’ll stick with my uneducated types and enjoy the show with the status quo. I especially love to grovel in our ignorance while you “art” types projectile vomit disdain at us. I’ll tell your Mom you said Hi!

  • palden

    I did like Abdi’s work. Though I enjoyed it on a level that may be coincidental to his approach. Whether intended or not the strength is there, its a condition to approaching most works.

    Miles is still young, maybe he hasn’t gotten used to pushing himself into uncomfortable areas and rising above them. His confidence and certainty prevent him from going beyond himself.

  • palden

    I did like Abdi’s work. Though I enjoyed it on a level that may be coincidental to his approach. Whether intended or not the strength is there, its a condition to approaching most works.

    Miles is still young, maybe he hasn’t gotten used to pushing himself into uncomfortable areas and rising above them. His confidence and certainty prevent him from going beyond himself.

  • Howard Halle

    Now what are you going to do for page views? May I recommend naked art school models? http://newyork.timeout.com/csearch/articles/category=24&mTitle=art-school%20models

  • Howard Halle

    Now what are you going to do for page views? May I recommend naked art school models? http://newyork.timeout.com/csearch/articles/category=24&mTitle=art-school%20models

  • James

    I agree that the work produced in the finale seemed superior to the rest of the season. Money and time certainly helped, but it was also the fact that they didn’t have to make “assigned” work. The last episode worked for me as a combo of reality TV and art (rest of the season did not much, art-wise). Based on what was shown on a television, I liked Miles’ work the least. I feel that the story behind the work was the most captivating part, but the abstractions became too removed from it. As a whole it intrigued me because it made me wonder if he ever considered that it might be “disrespectful” to use the images, but his morbid attraction to death is the same as many others, including myself at times. I was drawn to Abdi’s two figure sculptures, but that generally happens with sculptures of people. Overall I thought his show was too didactic. So I also liked Peregrine’s the most.

  • James

    I agree that the work produced in the finale seemed superior to the rest of the season. Money and time certainly helped, but it was also the fact that they didn’t have to make “assigned” work. The last episode worked for me as a combo of reality TV and art (rest of the season did not much, art-wise). Based on what was shown on a television, I liked Miles’ work the least. I feel that the story behind the work was the most captivating part, but the abstractions became too removed from it. As a whole it intrigued me because it made me wonder if he ever considered that it might be “disrespectful” to use the images, but his morbid attraction to death is the same as many others, including myself at times. I was drawn to Abdi’s two figure sculptures, but that generally happens with sculptures of people. Overall I thought his show was too didactic. So I also liked Peregrine’s the most.

  • Woof

    To be honest, like the last mind spectacle Marina Abromovic’s The Artist is Present show at MOMA, which everyone obsessed about last month – I think in two months nobody will even remember that this show existed.

    Abdi will have his small show at the BM, Im sure in a small off scale room (probably where Kiki Smith once displayed her wall paper experiments) and people will go back to the same as usual. This show was not drastic enough nor did it have a true spark personality to really erupt any sort of activity in the art world thinking. I doubt Mary Boone gives a shit this show exists.

    Congrats to Bravo on creating a fun show to watch with the flavor of ‘art’. I like it and ill come back for another scoop if the show continues again – but beyond that entertainment like ice cream flavors, I ate nothing substantial. Which, in a way, is exactly what I wanted.

    And AFC, the truth is you are a great writer and fun to read, but please, if your earnestness in coverage showed anything – it showed there is not much to write about in terms of art – and that 90 percent of criticism in an art context is irrelevant, repetitive, and ultimately a result of existential boredom and lubrication in the case of those who are writing it. That’s not to say that writing isn’t worth writing. Just don’t pretend this matters to you or that it will matter.

    Also I am sorry about my grammar.

    Untitled

    • http://www.artfagcity.com Art Fag City

      I liked covering this show, but I think you’re right to identify a level of earnestness that was at times off putting. I worry about these things after I’ve published a post and then identified a problem, but at that point it’s too late to do anything about it. Anyway, the show’s not going to change art, but it did bring a community of art watchers together albeit temporarily. You could argue that it would have been better if there was something more valuable to come together for, and you’d be right, but that’s also problem that exists everywhere.

      • http://www.darteboard.com j.d.hastings

        I didn’t start watching the show until week 4 and ultimately only started to join in on the discussion being had by other artists. Whatever problems I have with the show I think it proved the greater online artworld is eager to have something to communally relate to together. Hopefully we get more opportunities like this, but with more substance, going forward.

  • Woof

    To be honest, like the last mind spectacle Marina Abromovic’s The Artist is Present show at MOMA, which everyone obsessed about last month – I think in two months nobody will even remember that this show existed.

    Abdi will have his small show at the BM, Im sure in a small off scale room (probably where Kiki Smith once displayed her wall paper experiments) and people will go back to the same as usual. This show was not drastic enough nor did it have a true spark personality to really erupt any sort of activity in the art world thinking. I doubt Mary Boone gives a shit this show exists.

    Congrats to Bravo on creating a fun show to watch with the flavor of ‘art’. I like it and ill come back for another scoop if the show continues again – but beyond that entertainment like ice cream flavors, I ate nothing substantial. Which, in a way, is exactly what I wanted.

    And AFC, the truth is you are a great writer and fun to read, but please, if your earnestness in coverage showed anything – it showed there is not much to write about in terms of art – and that 90 percent of criticism in an art context is irrelevant, repetitive, and ultimately a result of existential boredom and lubrication in the case of those who are writing it. That’s not to say that writing isn’t worth writing. Just don’t pretend this matters to you or that it will matter.

    Also I am sorry about my grammar.

    Untitled

    • http://www.artfagcity.com Art Fag City

      I liked covering this show, but I think you’re right to identify a level of earnestness that was at times off putting. I worry about these things after I’ve published a post and then identified a problem, but at that point it’s too late to do anything about it. Anyway, the show’s not going to change art, but it did bring a community of art watchers together albeit temporarily. You could argue that it would have been better if there was something more valuable to come together for, and you’d be right, but that’s also problem that exists everywhere.

      • http://www.darteboard.com j.d.hastings

        I didn’t start watching the show until week 4 and ultimately only started to join in on the discussion being had by other artists. Whatever problems I have with the show I think it proved the greater online artworld is eager to have something to communally relate to together. Hopefully we get more opportunities like this, but with more substance, going forward.

  • Gina B

    The reference to Haiti doesn’t seem crazy to me, this was shot in the winter and the earthquake was recent…

    • http://www.judithannbraun.com Judith Braun

      I thought the same thing…but wasn’t sure, (and didn’t google) the dates.

  • Gina B

    The reference to Haiti doesn’t seem crazy to me, this was shot in the winter and the earthquake was recent…

    • http://www.judithannbraun.com Judith Braun

      I thought the same thing…but wasn’t sure, (and didn’t google) the dates.

  • Meredith

    I was thinking about the next season and what this show could become, and I’ve decided what I would like it to be. They would start with 14 or 16 artists, give them a challenge or inspiration to work from for a week, when they could create as many pieces as they like, and then eliminate 3 people each time, with two episodes per challenge. Okay, I guess that’s unrealistic, but the weakest aspects of this show have been silly challenges and too little time for the artists to do anything impressive. People like to reference Art 21 when talking about art on tv, but it’s the competition, not the art, that makes this show really fun. Don’t get me wrong, I love to see the creative process, but the real reason I watch is to see good art praised and rewarded and bad art called out as such, where usually I don’t get to hear anyone bad-mouthing crappy art.

    • Jeff Evans

      Jerry Saltz, on his NY Magazine “Work of Art” recap, is saying that he doesn’t want to take part in a second season. He feels that he’s failed because he wasn’t able to reduce his criticism to soundbites. Although, Abdi has told him that it was Jerry’s pushing him to become a better artist that enabled him to improve.

    • http://www.judithannbraun.com Judith Braun

      Meredith: I agree with your idea. Also that the artists be shown discussing the work more seriously amongst themselves…and that the judges include ARTISTS!

  • Meredith

    I was thinking about the next season and what this show could become, and I’ve decided what I would like it to be. They would start with 14 or 16 artists, give them a challenge or inspiration to work from for a week, when they could create as many pieces as they like, and then eliminate 3 people each time, with two episodes per challenge. Okay, I guess that’s unrealistic, but the weakest aspects of this show have been silly challenges and too little time for the artists to do anything impressive. People like to reference Art 21 when talking about art on tv, but it’s the competition, not the art, that makes this show really fun. Don’t get me wrong, I love to see the creative process, but the real reason I watch is to see good art praised and rewarded and bad art called out as such, where usually I don’t get to hear anyone bad-mouthing crappy art.

    • Jeff Evans

      Jerry Saltz, on his NY Magazine “Work of Art” recap, is saying that he doesn’t want to take part in a second season. He feels that he’s failed because he wasn’t able to reduce his criticism to soundbites. Although, Abdi has told him that it was Jerry’s pushing him to become a better artist that enabled him to improve.

    • http://www.judithannbraun.com Judith Braun

      Meredith: I agree with your idea. Also that the artists be shown discussing the work more seriously amongst themselves…and that the judges include ARTISTS!

  • http://www.patrickcollier.com Patrick

    Paddy, thanks for the recaps and commentary. It’s been fun following along, and I don’t think I would have endured all of the episodes were it not for this conversation you initiated.

    Miles and Peregrine will do fine in their respective worlds, making art, being married, hanging with their friends, whatever. I worry about Abdi.

    Mind you, I’m not going to throw barbs at him for the outcome of this contest. But if the kid is as wide-eyed and innocently enthusiastic as one of Peregrine’s fawns had it lived, then he will have to take care. Not all of the art world is cynically opportunistic as it may seem to long-in-the-tooth careerists, yet if he is not careful, there will not be much left after the Museum show that will sustain his career.

    Now, there are certainly a few jobs as an illustrator, and Abdi might do well in this area, working for magazines and other publishers. However, if he plans on pursuing fine art, then I would suggest he take some of that prize money and go to grad school in some big city. Such a move might ease him into the reality of what awaits. It might also give him a space where he can continue exploring his motivations and intentions in a somewhat nurturing (albeit sometimes harsh) and perhaps even intellectually rigorous environment.

    He seems like a nice kid, obviously, so why wouldn’t we want the best for him?

  • http://www.patrickcollier.com Patrick

    Paddy, thanks for the recaps and commentary. It’s been fun following along, and I don’t think I would have endured all of the episodes were it not for this conversation you initiated.

    Miles and Peregrine will do fine in their respective worlds, making art, being married, hanging with their friends, whatever. I worry about Abdi.

    Mind you, I’m not going to throw barbs at him for the outcome of this contest. But if the kid is as wide-eyed and innocently enthusiastic as one of Peregrine’s fawns had it lived, then he will have to take care. Not all of the art world is cynically opportunistic as it may seem to long-in-the-tooth careerists, yet if he is not careful, there will not be much left after the Museum show that will sustain his career.

    Now, there are certainly a few jobs as an illustrator, and Abdi might do well in this area, working for magazines and other publishers. However, if he plans on pursuing fine art, then I would suggest he take some of that prize money and go to grad school in some big city. Such a move might ease him into the reality of what awaits. It might also give him a space where he can continue exploring his motivations and intentions in a somewhat nurturing (albeit sometimes harsh) and perhaps even intellectually rigorous environment.

    He seems like a nice kid, obviously, so why wouldn’t we want the best for him?

  • dnadesignergenes

    Loved seeing Abdi win…Miles didn’t cut loose enough (tho with the limited TV screen- view I had – maybe your reference to the lighting reduction reduced his work’s power)—Peregrine did her best work…I don’t care for most of her work…but she had some good pieces…

    However, your comments regarding full and substantial views (through comprehensive panning video and/or good still shots—far away & close up) is spot on. Bravo could put MORE views – of these works on its website if there isn’t enough time or space in this show.

    Abdi is only 22 or 23. For his age, he reached high…

  • dnadesignergenes

    Loved seeing Abdi win…Miles didn’t cut loose enough (tho with the limited TV screen- view I had – maybe your reference to the lighting reduction reduced his work’s power)—Peregrine did her best work…I don’t care for most of her work…but she had some good pieces…

    However, your comments regarding full and substantial views (through comprehensive panning video and/or good still shots—far away & close up) is spot on. Bravo could put MORE views – of these works on its website if there isn’t enough time or space in this show.

    Abdi is only 22 or 23. For his age, he reached high…

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  • http://hypothete.com Hypothete

    The only reason they didn’t choose Miles was because his art would be competing with the floor.

    • juddfan

      HAHAHA!!!

  • http://hypothete.com Hypothete

    The only reason they didn’t choose Miles was because his art would be competing with the floor.

    • juddfan

      HAHAHA!!!

  • aim

    I think the Bravo site should show virtual tours of the installations like real estate sites do when selling properties. I think the tv didn’t do justice to the work in it’s context and it is difficult to discern how the work might be different if seen in person.

    Miles sweep through assorted technologies : surveillance camera to iphone to old Mac computer to screen print while exploring the notion of death kept me thinking about the Ghost in the Machine. I bet what he showed was more compelling if you stood directly in front of it.

    Peregrine’s work felt like a candyland sideshow funeral for those two fawns. I could imagine her including large floral horseshoe wreaths and oversized 4-H type ribbons announcing odd prizes. I only wish all of the beeswax components of her show had wicks and that they all could have been lit at once.

    The critics seemed to assign readings to Abdi’s work that I don’t think he even considered. He seems so young and skilled and unaware and it doesn’t matter.
    He prayed and in his mind God heard his prayers.

  • aim

    I think the Bravo site should show virtual tours of the installations like real estate sites do when selling properties. I think the tv didn’t do justice to the work in it’s context and it is difficult to discern how the work might be different if seen in person.

    Miles sweep through assorted technologies : surveillance camera to iphone to old Mac computer to screen print while exploring the notion of death kept me thinking about the Ghost in the Machine. I bet what he showed was more compelling if you stood directly in front of it.

    Peregrine’s work felt like a candyland sideshow funeral for those two fawns. I could imagine her including large floral horseshoe wreaths and oversized 4-H type ribbons announcing odd prizes. I only wish all of the beeswax components of her show had wicks and that they all could have been lit at once.

    The critics seemed to assign readings to Abdi’s work that I don’t think he even considered. He seems so young and skilled and unaware and it doesn’t matter.
    He prayed and in his mind God heard his prayers.

  • Stiches

    Regarding the body bag painting(s?), speciffically the one we saw, “Home”, I thought that it was a painting of a homeless man in a sleeping bag at first. The paintings we saw of the men’s backs like the one where a man was carrying seemingly everything he owned on his back was connected to homelessness in my mind. The thought that homeless people will never find “Home” until they’re dead was very powerful in my mind.

    I haven’t been able to connect that very good work to the sculptures on the floor or the large, inverse self-portrait, but I’m still thinking about the connection which to me means it’s pretty good. That the basketball players could also be dead gives it a bit of a connection, that healthy young men will die too, even if they’re wealthy enough to afford a nice pair of kicks. I really don’t get (and didn’t much like) the self-portrait, maybe that’s Abdi’s vision of himself becoming one with the universe after he’s dead.

    Maybe there’s no connection there. Maybe there doesn’t always have to be some big, universal, underlying theme in everything an artist produces or every gallery show. Maybe it’s ridiculous that we go to an opening night expecting to see all wax dummy heads or all modern saints and demons or all graffiti-inspired characatures on wooden planks.

  • Stiches

    Regarding the body bag painting(s?), speciffically the one we saw, “Home”, I thought that it was a painting of a homeless man in a sleeping bag at first. The paintings we saw of the men’s backs like the one where a man was carrying seemingly everything he owned on his back was connected to homelessness in my mind. The thought that homeless people will never find “Home” until they’re dead was very powerful in my mind.

    I haven’t been able to connect that very good work to the sculptures on the floor or the large, inverse self-portrait, but I’m still thinking about the connection which to me means it’s pretty good. That the basketball players could also be dead gives it a bit of a connection, that healthy young men will die too, even if they’re wealthy enough to afford a nice pair of kicks. I really don’t get (and didn’t much like) the self-portrait, maybe that’s Abdi’s vision of himself becoming one with the universe after he’s dead.

    Maybe there’s no connection there. Maybe there doesn’t always have to be some big, universal, underlying theme in everything an artist produces or every gallery show. Maybe it’s ridiculous that we go to an opening night expecting to see all wax dummy heads or all modern saints and demons or all graffiti-inspired characatures on wooden planks.

  • Stiches

    My point is that I definitely did pick up the socioeconomic commentary in Abdi’s work, especially as it related to death and the idea that “you can’t take it with you”. I can’t really see how it related to race and don’t remember Abdi ever saying it did (but I could be wrong).

    I thought Peregrine’s work related more to race in her casting the brown-skin painted head in different colors, but nobody but Simon knew it was originally brown fleshed. What I absolutely did not get was why her work was called feminist. I guess girls vommiting after overindulgence is feminist? I don’t know but damn, those art-types sure are quick to pigeonhole!

  • Stiches

    My point is that I definitely did pick up the socioeconomic commentary in Abdi’s work, especially as it related to death and the idea that “you can’t take it with you”. I can’t really see how it related to race and don’t remember Abdi ever saying it did (but I could be wrong).

    I thought Peregrine’s work related more to race in her casting the brown-skin painted head in different colors, but nobody but Simon knew it was originally brown fleshed. What I absolutely did not get was why her work was called feminist. I guess girls vommiting after overindulgence is feminist? I don’t know but damn, those art-types sure are quick to pigeonhole!

  • http://bearandwalrus.bandcamp.com thesimplicity

    I have to say that I haven’t been active in the institutional art world since my BFA days, but the absurdity of this show had me not only watching each week but checking AFC after each episode. Over the past few months of checking this blog just for snarky episode commentary, my curiosity has been piqued and I’ve started reading the regular AFC articles as well as other blogs like Today & Tomorrow, New-Art and We Make Money Not Art. So, for me, this show was immensely successful because: it sparked an awareness.

    Maybe it will do the same for others. Thanks.

  • http://bearandwalrus.bandcamp.com thesimplicity

    I have to say that I haven’t been active in the institutional art world since my BFA days, but the absurdity of this show had me not only watching each week but checking AFC after each episode. Over the past few months of checking this blog just for snarky episode commentary, my curiosity has been piqued and I’ve started reading the regular AFC articles as well as other blogs like Today & Tomorrow, New-Art and We Make Money Not Art. So, for me, this show was immensely successful because: it sparked an awareness.

    Maybe it will do the same for others. Thanks.

  • Jenette

    I read on the MPR website that Miles is having an exhibit. But, because of his contract he couldn’t release where to the reporter because it’s at the same time as Abdi’s which makes him competition blah blah…

    I’d really love to find out where it is. My first guess was the Brooklyn Museum, but I checked their website and nothing about Miles was on there. If someone has heard through the grape vine where it is, it’d be awesome for them to share that information.

    • http://www.judithannbraun.com Judith Braun

      Just friend him on Facebook, and ask him! Or google around and you will find it soon enough. We are fully allowed to have any exhibitions of our own, and unless it is at the same institution on the same day (and it’s not), I cannot imagine the Bravo can stop Miles from publicizing his own show. I’d tell you if I knew, but I don’t!

    • juddfan

      The article that he mentioned that show in is not very favorable, and I mean that, in his own words, he comes off very unlikable . . . and completely unappreciative of what being on the show could do to help him. I believe he said, if he’d won, he would give it away as a middle finger to the producers . . . HUH!

    • Jeff Evans

      Miles is having a solo show in the Half Gallery co-owned by “Work of Art” judge Bill Powers August 24-September 14th. Prints from editions of 3 will be for sale for $1,200. http://www.artinfo.com/news/story/35497/work-of-art-contestant-miles-mendenhall-to-show-at-judge-bill-powerss-gallery/

    • Trini

      MILES MENDENHALL
      August 24—September 14, 2010
      Opening reception: Tuesday, August 24, 6-8 p.m.
      208 FORSYTH STREET, NEW YORK | INFO@HALFGALLERY.COM
      Hours: MONDAY-FRIDAY, 10-6 p.m., and by appointment

  • Jenette

    I read on the MPR website that Miles is having an exhibit. But, because of his contract he couldn’t release where to the reporter because it’s at the same time as Abdi’s which makes him competition blah blah…

    I’d really love to find out where it is. My first guess was the Brooklyn Museum, but I checked their website and nothing about Miles was on there. If someone has heard through the grape vine where it is, it’d be awesome for them to share that information.

    • http://www.judithannbraun.com Judith Braun

      Just friend him on Facebook, and ask him! Or google around and you will find it soon enough. We are fully allowed to have any exhibitions of our own, and unless it is at the same institution on the same day (and it’s not), I cannot imagine the Bravo can stop Miles from publicizing his own show. I’d tell you if I knew, but I don’t!

    • juddfan

      The article that he mentioned that show in is not very favorable, and I mean that, in his own words, he comes off very unlikable . . . and completely unappreciative of what being on the show could do to help him. I believe he said, if he’d won, he would give it away as a middle finger to the producers . . . HUH!

    • Jeff Evans

      Miles is having a solo show in the Half Gallery co-owned by “Work of Art” judge Bill Powers August 24-September 14th. Prints from editions of 3 will be for sale for $1,200. http://www.artinfo.com/news/story/35497/work-of-art-contestant-miles-mendenhall-to-show-at-judge-bill-powerss-gallery/

    • Trini

      MILES MENDENHALL
      August 24—September 14, 2010
      Opening reception: Tuesday, August 24, 6-8 p.m.
      208 FORSYTH STREET, NEW YORK | INFO@HALFGALLERY.COM
      Hours: MONDAY-FRIDAY, 10-6 p.m., and by appointment

  • colin72

    Has everyone read the interview with Miles on the Minnesota Public Radio site? Google: MPR Miles Mendenhall.

    I’ve been thinking about Miles’ remarks in the interview and he’s so full of shit it makes my ass hurt. Here is what really happened…

    Going into WoA Miles knew that he might be perceived as a douchebag and his “art cred” could be tarnished if WoA didn’t go over well with the “art world”. So Miles got all philosophical and talked to friends about how cool and subversive it would be if he took on a persona and played with the idea of being on reality TV. But did he really do that? No. All that we saw was Miles act douchey and a little odd. Miles didn’t pull anything over on anyone. Many viewers called him a phony from the beginning and his fellow contestants called him out repeatedly.

    So now Miles is claiming that he went into WoA as an “experiment”. Miles says, “the idea of winning something like that would be horrific; that comes with a title and level of pressure I didn’t want to have.” BS Miles. BS. If the idea of winning was so “horrific”, why he even compete in the final challenge? Did Miles drop out and avoid the horror of winning? No, Miles tried to win with an exhibit typical of his past work. Why didn’t he do something really subversive? Why didn’t he make a statement about the show or reality TV with his final exhibit?

    If Miles really would have liked to win just to “give away the prize money” as “a way to give the middle finger to the makers of the show”, why didn’t he give away the $5,00 he won instead of spending it on screen printing and getting himself show? So Miles wants us to believe he would have even away $100,000 but he keeps $5,000?

    You’re full of shit Miles. You’re desperately trying to spin the experience to try and make it seem like you are above this silly little show and reality TV. You’re not an art pussy Miles. You’re just another art phony.

    • http://www.judithannbraun.com Judith Braun

      I didn’t read the article, but your excerpts are sure telling. I was one of those who never bought his schtick, from OCD… to sleep problems (who didnt’ have those)…to being a 22 year old suffering artist…puleez. But I may have been the only contestant (I can’t swear to that) who went on Bravo’s camera from the beginning saying I didn’t want to win an art exhibition. (They edited it out.) I would have taken the money, but the truth is they didn’t tell us about the money till about a week before we arrived for the shooting. In spite of this, over the course of watching the whole show, I came to think that Miles was making art in a way I could relate to the most. So though he outright lied about me on camera, that I was bothering him all the time (he now admits we had only one conversation)…I responded to his way of working and with the results…not in every case, but overall..the most.

    • http://www.artfagcity.com Art Fag City

      I think there’s a fair amount of substance to this comment, but please provide a link to the original interview and refrain from name calling.

    • juddfan

      Um, that’s the one I was referring too–guess I’m way behind on catching up in here. Couldn’t have said it better myself.

      I’ll just add, if he didn’t want to win, and didn’t think he was going to win, why did he smile like that, so beaming, so assured when China called his name, like he knew he was winning . . .

  • colin72

    Has everyone read the interview with Miles on the Minnesota Public Radio site? Google: MPR Miles Mendenhall.

    I’ve been thinking about Miles’ remarks in the interview and he’s so full of shit it makes my ass hurt. Here is what really happened…

    Going into WoA Miles knew that he might be perceived as a douchebag and his “art cred” could be tarnished if WoA didn’t go over well with the “art world”. So Miles got all philosophical and talked to friends about how cool and subversive it would be if he took on a persona and played with the idea of being on reality TV. But did he really do that? No. All that we saw was Miles act douchey and a little odd. Miles didn’t pull anything over on anyone. Many viewers called him a phony from the beginning and his fellow contestants called him out repeatedly.

    So now Miles is claiming that he went into WoA as an “experiment”. Miles says, “the idea of winning something like that would be horrific; that comes with a title and level of pressure I didn’t want to have.” BS Miles. BS. If the idea of winning was so “horrific”, why he even compete in the final challenge? Did Miles drop out and avoid the horror of winning? No, Miles tried to win with an exhibit typical of his past work. Why didn’t he do something really subversive? Why didn’t he make a statement about the show or reality TV with his final exhibit?

    If Miles really would have liked to win just to “give away the prize money” as “a way to give the middle finger to the makers of the show”, why didn’t he give away the $5,00 he won instead of spending it on screen printing and getting himself show? So Miles wants us to believe he would have even away $100,000 but he keeps $5,000?

    You’re full of shit Miles. You’re desperately trying to spin the experience to try and make it seem like you are above this silly little show and reality TV. You’re not an art pussy Miles. You’re just another art phony.

    • http://www.judithannbraun.com Judith Braun

      I didn’t read the article, but your excerpts are sure telling. I was one of those who never bought his schtick, from OCD… to sleep problems (who didnt’ have those)…to being a 22 year old suffering artist…puleez. But I may have been the only contestant (I can’t swear to that) who went on Bravo’s camera from the beginning saying I didn’t want to win an art exhibition. (They edited it out.) I would have taken the money, but the truth is they didn’t tell us about the money till about a week before we arrived for the shooting. In spite of this, over the course of watching the whole show, I came to think that Miles was making art in a way I could relate to the most. So though he outright lied about me on camera, that I was bothering him all the time (he now admits we had only one conversation)…I responded to his way of working and with the results…not in every case, but overall..the most.

    • http://www.artfagcity.com Art Fag City

      I think there’s a fair amount of substance to this comment, but please provide a link to the original interview and refrain from name calling.

    • juddfan

      Um, that’s the one I was referring too–guess I’m way behind on catching up in here. Couldn’t have said it better myself.

      I’ll just add, if he didn’t want to win, and didn’t think he was going to win, why did he smile like that, so beaming, so assured when China called his name, like he knew he was winning . . .

  • Stiches

    With Miles, I started to get the feeling after the “shock art” episode that he was starting to play more subversive, creating the type of souless, cerebral art that curators and critics have loved so much for the past 20 years or so, art that takes some skill and a lot of planning, but not a lot of imagination. The Disney piece in that episode seemed like the last one where he was really trying, for me at least. It felt like he did that, looked at all the time and effort he was putting toward creating something he liked and said “fuck it, I’m going to make some senior thesis bullshit”.

    The emotional conneection to his art became more and more absent as the judges lapped up his more vacant work. I can’t say any of this is true, but if you look at his work created before the show, it is so different, so much more alive than anything he made during the show. I really think he threw the entire competition after about week 4 or so, he just never got thrown out until the end.

    It worries me that the judges loving his less-interesting works might stunt his growth as an artist. I’ve seen artists ruined by bad MFA programs where they’re taught to pay attention to trends and money-making than their own vision.

    Given all the nice things written about Miles before the show, how sweet and talented his is, plus the speculation in his local press that he had created a persona for the show, I’m inclined to believe that he did come into the competition playing a part that was not fully himself. But given that we all do this everyday, perhaps acting submissive or stoic at work and dominant or carefree at home, maybe he wasn’t even aware of the part he was playing until later.

  • Stiches

    With Miles, I started to get the feeling after the “shock art” episode that he was starting to play more subversive, creating the type of souless, cerebral art that curators and critics have loved so much for the past 20 years or so, art that takes some skill and a lot of planning, but not a lot of imagination. The Disney piece in that episode seemed like the last one where he was really trying, for me at least. It felt like he did that, looked at all the time and effort he was putting toward creating something he liked and said “fuck it, I’m going to make some senior thesis bullshit”.

    The emotional conneection to his art became more and more absent as the judges lapped up his more vacant work. I can’t say any of this is true, but if you look at his work created before the show, it is so different, so much more alive than anything he made during the show. I really think he threw the entire competition after about week 4 or so, he just never got thrown out until the end.

    It worries me that the judges loving his less-interesting works might stunt his growth as an artist. I’ve seen artists ruined by bad MFA programs where they’re taught to pay attention to trends and money-making than their own vision.

    Given all the nice things written about Miles before the show, how sweet and talented his is, plus the speculation in his local press that he had created a persona for the show, I’m inclined to believe that he did come into the competition playing a part that was not fully himself. But given that we all do this everyday, perhaps acting submissive or stoic at work and dominant or carefree at home, maybe he wasn’t even aware of the part he was playing until later.

  • sally

    I know this thread is done but I was out of town and just got caught up. I think Abdi deserved to win. The context of the show was messed up on so many levels, but he took it straight on as a genuine challenge to his personal growth as an artist and made huge strides. I think he’ll do fine, wherever this takes him next. Maybe it won’t be Chelsea. Considering how the context of Chelsea is by all accounts as messed up as this show, that’s okay.

  • sally

    I know this thread is done but I was out of town and just got caught up. I think Abdi deserved to win. The context of the show was messed up on so many levels, but he took it straight on as a genuine challenge to his personal growth as an artist and made huge strides. I think he’ll do fine, wherever this takes him next. Maybe it won’t be Chelsea. Considering how the context of Chelsea is by all accounts as messed up as this show, that’s okay.

  • Corinne

    Way late into this conversation, I would like to make a point that almost no one will read. Art can be “racial” and not be “about race” in the same way it can be “gendered” and not be attempting to issue commentary on gender.

    Peregrine’s work featured vomiting white women. Was it “about” whiteness and white femininity specifically? Or did the women just happen to be white because that is who inhabits her imaginative world? Or because white women tend to see their bodies as excess much more than minority women do? I have no idea what her intention was. By the same token, was Miles making a commentary about homeless whites or did the poor man he photographed just happen to be white?

    I think Abdi’s work is indeed about race, though not wholly. One painting’s title very consciously refers to the infamous medical experimentation done on black men at Tuskegee.

    Hank Thomas Willis is the last artist with whom I’d compare his work. The New York Times writer Karen Rosenberg did the same thing and I was confused then, too. Kehinde Wiley, yes. Basquiat has definitely influenced his vision. Maybe Tanner. But Willis? I don’t see it at all!

    • http://www.artfagcity.com Art Fag City

      I mentioned Hank Willis Thomas for two reasons: 1. His work was purchased by the museum and shown at the same time. 2. His work has a similar kind of heavy handedness, and body of work similarly depicted basketball stars. I don’t think Willis Thomas is an artist Farah would look to for inspiration, but that doesn’t mean there’s not reason to make the connection.

      • Corinne

        With all due respect, you must realize how superficial those connections are. On an interpretive level, basketball shoes is where the similarity begins and ends. Farah’s dead young men (not basketball stars) have little to do with Thomas’ kitschy commentary on black commodification.

        I have come away from these conversations wishing that influential young critics were more attentive when reviewing about black contemporary art– or at least consult someone who could offer them seriously contextualized interpretations. For instance, David LaChappelle has been critiqued for his “primitivist” and “exploitative” representations of black bodies. Yet WoA obviously chose him for his racial creds. So expected. So disappointing.

        The art world needs minority critics as much as it needs more women.

        • http://www.artfagcity.com Art Fag City

          I think that’s a fair criticism of those connections. Point taken.

  • Corinne

    Way late into this conversation, I would like to make a point that almost no one will read. Art can be “racial” and not be “about race” in the same way it can be “gendered” and not be attempting to issue commentary on gender.

    Peregrine’s work featured vomiting white women. Was it “about” whiteness and white femininity specifically? Or did the women just happen to be white because that is who inhabits her imaginative world? Or because white women tend to see their bodies as excess much more than minority women do? I have no idea what her intention was. By the same token, was Miles making a commentary about homeless whites or did the poor man he photographed just happen to be white?

    I think Abdi’s work is indeed about race, though not wholly. One painting’s title very consciously refers to the infamous medical experimentation done on black men at Tuskegee.

    Hank Thomas Willis is the last artist with whom I’d compare his work. The New York Times writer Karen Rosenberg did the same thing and I was confused then, too. Kehinde Wiley, yes. Basquiat has definitely influenced his vision. Maybe Tanner. But Willis? I don’t see it at all!

    • http://www.artfagcity.com Art Fag City

      I mentioned Hank Willis Thomas for two reasons: 1. His work was purchased by the museum and shown at the same time. 2. His work has a similar kind of heavy handedness, and body of work similarly depicted basketball stars. I don’t think Willis Thomas is an artist Farah would look to for inspiration, but that doesn’t mean there’s not reason to make the connection.

      • Corinne

        With all due respect, you must realize how superficial those connections are. On an interpretive level, basketball shoes is where the similarity begins and ends. Farah’s dead young men (not basketball stars) have little to do with Thomas’ kitschy commentary on black commodification.

        I have come away from these conversations wishing that influential young critics were more attentive when reviewing about black contemporary art– or at least consult someone who could offer them seriously contextualized interpretations. For instance, David LaChappelle has been critiqued for his “primitivist” and “exploitative” representations of black bodies. Yet WoA obviously chose him for his racial creds. So expected. So disappointing.

        The art world needs minority critics as much as it needs more women.

        • http://www.artfagcity.com Art Fag City

          I think that’s a fair criticism of those connections. Point taken.

  • http://www.judithannbraun.com Judith Braun

    CORINNE: I just read your comment about race…and I think you made a good point. Why do we not describe Peregrines figures, as “white females vomiting”….or the young boy’s head and a “young white boys head.” Etc. This is so common to only see race, or mention someone’s race, if they are non-white. Thanks for bringing this up in this context.

    • Corinne

      Thank you, Judith. I agree–the BM curator mentioned that her work was “feminist,” but really, her installation speaks to a *white* feminist vision of the body. Which is cool–not every woman has to relate to Peregrine’s work for it to be effective.

      Love your art, by the way!

  • http://www.judithannbraun.com Judith Braun

    CORINNE: I just read your comment about race…and I think you made a good point. Why do we not describe Peregrines figures, as “white females vomiting”….or the young boy’s head and a “young white boys head.” Etc. This is so common to only see race, or mention someone’s race, if they are non-white. Thanks for bringing this up in this context.

    • Corinne

      Thank you, Judith. I agree–the BM curator mentioned that her work was “feminist,” but really, her installation speaks to a *white* feminist vision of the body. Which is cool–not every woman has to relate to Peregrine’s work for it to be effective.

      Love your art, by the way!

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