A Klansman! Conjoined twins! Corpses! Poop!
Pachyderm explains that she was inspired by Serrano at eighteen, when she saw him give a talk. Well, that explains it. By 1995 he'd already gone full meta, which probably impressed the young Patagonia as much as it does any of us at that age. I hope she takes a picture of herself taking a picture of a picture of Andres Serrano; double points if she does this dressed as a mime-faced lawn jockey.
Everybody runs around "responding" to the art and informing each other of fascinating (and shocking!) facts about menstrual blood, urine, feces, mimes, lawn jockeys, conjoined twins. Surprisingly enough, Nao wins for grossest immediate comment, about God knows what: "It's, like, the one that scares me the most somehow." She has twisted something into her hair that is not a small garbage back, and put on a cute purple sweater over her print dress. As you can imagine, Nao is all over the menstrual blood and urine and feces, but most of all the intoxicating fame of Andres Serrano.
Standing in front of Piss Christ, Mark and Abdi try to understand the '90s and/or why Andres Serrano is famous. Mark, of course, has no response to any art because he is not an artist, but Abdi likes the colors. Mark explains to him about the pee here, and Abdi's like, "Is this being provocative for its own sake?" (Yes.) Jaime Lynn gets right up in his grill about how Andres is very religious and so it's a commentary about blah-blah-blah, basically repeating verbatim things everybody knows about Andres Serrano, but in that angry arrogant art-student way where she's scoring a point. Abdi gives in, and says that's just like so powerful, and she hisses, "That's what makes it art."
Coincidentally, this conversation is what makes Jaime Lynn awful. It's too bad, because I was rooting for her before this, but that angry-face art-crit appalled-jaw over-it act is just about the most unattractive dealbreaking thing you can do. It's not your art, you are not allowed to be incensed on its behalf like some kind of Linux nerd scoffing angrily because somebody, somewhere, bought an iPad. I mean, I get that JL is religious, it's one of the things I like about her, but to get all "Christ's message has been demeaned by culture," while at the same time snotting around about the Nature of Art, is... Pretty shallow. Luckily, Abdi is a class act, so he just agrees that he has been educated in the nature of art, and we move on.
China Chow, what on earth are you wearing, sweetheart? A rigorously constructed black bubble skirt and cute lacy top. I bet that thing's got chicken-wire in it! She busts up in there with Andres, who looks great, and Simon introduces them. They clap and I think Nao curtsies, and Erik stares at him and identifies with Andres Serrano because... What else does he have? Erik is aware of one more artist today than he was yesterday, and this one likes pee. Ryan says he's not "shocking per se," but that housewives don't get him; John just says exhaustedly that being gay is in itself shocking and people are always bugging you, so no big deal.
Andres says the word "shit" one million times, which... Yep. They all laugh and wonder why he keeps saying that word "shit." Simon gets on board at end, which elicits actual shocked laughter, and makes the whole thing worth it. On their way out to hit Utrecht, Presbyteria pulls some kind of Namaste bullshit at Andres. Good Lord that girl.
Okay, let's be shocking already, with a $100 budget. Abdi consults a tiny cute art-store elf about how to make candles, I guess out of his own fat or something. He admits he's always looking to be shocking, if not sexual. Ryan and Nao -- there's a pair of assholes for ya -- giggle and roam thinking about shocking things, while JL in her leopard-print scarf decides that in fact she's been subtly referencing Serrano all along and not Gilbert & George like she clearly has been. Although I guess it's hard to hit that NEA-friendly mix of "creepy" and "accessible" just right, so maybe that's the influence.
Oh wait, no, what she's saying is that she's been invoking him in her own defense. Maybe that explains her weird defensiveness about him. She talks at length about hypocrisy and Christianity and faith and all that, and it's pretty compelling because you can see why she would be so attached to Serrano, and I guess it was just her affect in that moment that bothered me so much. Still, she gets pretty pissy, and when I like her work it's generally not for the same reasons she seems to think it's worthwhile. Like, the vacuum cleaner thing was my favorite piece besides John's in the junk challenge, but only because it was aesthetically pleasing, whereas she seemed to think it was Exile In Guyville. I imagine her shocking art will be a self-portrait of herself wearing white shoes and a calendar proving it's long past Labor Day.
Quiet John is busting out! Auto-fellatio! He just went there, immediately. "What's shocking? Sucking your own dick. What else ya got?" I'm sure Nao will beat him there, though.
What's Nao going to pull? Well, problem number one is that nothing shocks her because she's seen it all. And I don't know if you know this, because she doesn't really mention it very often, but her absurd amount of fame mostly comes from performance art and video pieces. Very shocking, generally. In this case, she has no idea what's going to happen.
Abdi is shocked by the futurelessness of the black urban male, which is sort of a Mark way to go for the person who will probably win this whole thing. I mean, valid, and I love the idea of disenfranchised kids as bombs, but it seems a little on the nose, like Mark's calaveras... Although I guess the same would go for John's dick-sucking masterpiece, come to think of it. And I'm sure Proud Pussy will find a way to get naked, and Miles will no-doubt have buttholes involved somehow, so maybe we should just take "on the nose" off the table at this point.
Erik's pleased as much to do what he would "naturally do," which is make shocking dumb art, and... Yep, kids getting molested by priests. Timely and obnoxiously trashy. "I don't know anybody that's personally been sexually abused by a priest," he says, and then follows up that shitty little admission with the even more offensive "I read a statistic once that said there were more Catholic priests living with AIDS than there were... Anyone else." I'd like to see that pie chart, with all the priest PWA's in red and then just a big "Everybody Else" in green. That sounds real fucking scientific, you douchebag.
Proud Pussy runs right back to the bathroom and gets those fake tits out immediately, of course. Jaime Lynn is appalled and dashes away as quickly as possible. Nao opens the door next, bashing it into Proud Pussy's boobs while wearing a SARS mask, and apologizes for trying to use the restroom for something other than taking skanky MySpace pix. Jaclyn explains that this graceless attempt to take sexual photographs of herself is consciously trying to evoke the sense of a girl attempting to take poorly composed sexy photos of herself. Nicole finds it funny, but also shocking! Nicole is completely vague! Number one perfect girlfriend for anybody who just wants a girlfriend!
Working, working, Mark pops balloons and goes after the sexual abuse of children as well, explaining to us along the way what a "triptych" is and then lining up bloody fucking little girl panties on various color-blocked canvases. So provocative! So terrifying! So classic Mark: All flash, no inspiration.