Work of Art
A Shock To The System

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In The Pink

Nao is doing some kind of crap that involves constructing from thick cardboard shapes that could have been made "by an insect or an animal." (Or Erik.) It breaks in her hands, and Promethea tries and fails to be sympathetic. So far, yet again, Nao's got nothing.

Simon visits Proud Pussy, who tries to explain how these slutty photos -- just as in the last three challenges -- are not actually slutty photos. He shows her the boner he's getting about her naked tits, and Erik chuckles creepily. Simon tells her to get a life, or maybe try making some art, but she proudly says no.

Mature Audiences! Oh yeah. Next is JL, who has done a really cool-looking cartoonist's rendition of the Last Supper as a punk-pop cocktail party full of weapons. The business of all it reminds me of Spiegleman's illos and endpapers for The Wild Party, that New Yorker kind of thing, but the iconic nature of the setting -- and the very Archie cartoonishness of it all -- makes it really lovely. Simon says it's not shocking, even after she's explained how this is her version of Piss Christ: Her frustration at, essentially, having Lindsay Lohan invited into pop juxtaposition with Jesus as media objects. As usual, I love both medium and message, but -- as usual -- not even Crazy Simon can see the connection. He tells her she better figure out how to explain it in a way that will fool the judges into thinking it's relevant.

We're not even allowed to see John's picture of the guy blowing himself, but he explains that his friend who sucks his own dick no longer leaves the house. Simon wonders about the Dick & Jane style in which he's painted the picture, and John worries that maybe autofellatio is de trop for old Simon. Are you kidding me? Simon's sexual fantasies probably have larger and more varied casts than a DW Griffith period piece. The guy's clearly a Rick Jamesian superfreak.

From Rick Jamesian to Ellen Jamesian, let's see what's going on now with Nao. When she talks I just hear muted trumpet, but basically she has stuck some crap to some other crap and is now "going into outer space and coming back with some information," so if Simon could just chill for a sec, that would be great. Abdi worries, as does everyone, what the fuck Nao is up to. She'll be sitting inside the piece sometimes, like Miles, and mingling with the crowd sometimes, like Miles. But unlike Miles, she is not cute as a button. And nobody will buy her bullshit.

Simon informs everybody that this one comes with immunity, and another wonderful surprise: Not one but two people will be eliminated. Prosthesis is shocked. I feel like every time we see her, the bunny outfit has morphed into more of an outfit and less of an assault. Now it's like a cute mod minidress with just the bunny ears to remind you what she's capable of. Erik gets scared and immediately runs to go take a shit on his art, so that it will be more shocking. More "shocking" than AIDS-infected priests sexlessly hipster-cuddling with Proud Pussy? You don't say.

Erik actually offers Proud Pussy some excellent advice: Let the rest of the group write obscenely rude shit on her slutty pics when she's not looking. Not only is this a cool idea -- and PP is totally down -- but he even has a narrative for it: "What better way can you shock people than to put yourself in a vulnerable situation?"

And with that, Erik runs off to catch AIDS from a priest. And then shit on the AIDS.

I don't know, though: Doesn't this great "Let's be mean to Jaclyn" concept seem like a sort of terrible idea, in actual practice? Proud Pussy's main thing is being in denial about herself. I see this going to the Judy Blume place where everybody dishes up some scrambled eggs and puts Blubber in the middle of the circle and start giving her the old Mean Girl therapy session. In my experience, this generally ends up with everybody chanting "Cry! Cry! Cry!" until she cries. God, that is going to be amazing if that happens. I shouldn't get my hopes up.

Miles continues to draw his morass, John gets nervous about his Life Drawing skillz, Punxsutawney lounges around in her bunnysuit, and Abdi finally gets his molds of the little-kid heads ready. Nobody even bothers to register an opinion about Abdi's work, because they know he is going to win this shit.

Ryan and Abdi caution Erik not to actually write SEX EDUCATION on his work, because it's dorky and on-the-nose and points up his lack of sophistication and taste level so tremendously, but he goes, "I know the popular consensus is I should avoid text but I'm just putting text on there?" Abdi is like, "That is a valid argument." Even Ryan's suggestion, making that the title, is still taking it too far. But Erik wants to make it like an old-school PSA poster (I forgot, he mentioned that earlier) so some kind of text actually is going to be necessary. And you know what, honestly whatever gets Erik the fuck out of here fastest, the better.

I mean, to be clear, I don't hate him, he's not bad looking, he seems pretty nice overall and I would hire him to do odd jobs if he lived in the Boo Radley house down the block, but this is all starting to feel a bit mean. Like we might as well ask him to go yachting, or invite him to crack a lobster while we all watch. ("Avoid the steaming divot!" we'd say, and he'd hunker down and start taking shocking photos of the steaming divot.) It's just not entertainment. For example, here's the connection Erik has finally made to Serrano: He designed a couple Metallica covers. I mean...

Anyway. One hour left. Mark's at the computer, making art out of nothing. Miles, looking lush, tries to flirt the coffee maker into working. No dice. Lovely Nicole -- whom the show seems to be treating like a secret to be kept from us, which makes me think she'll be around a long time -- asks Pramayana to donate some fingernails to her thumb thing, which is already more than she's ever contributed. The thumb casts, we see now, are suspended in tiny glass jars. It's actually super creepy, now that she's actually doing it. She tells us that both she and her twin have always been into art, and that she's feeling good about where she's at in her process.

Tomorrow: One hour of work left. Abdi gets to it, making all his little head-bombs, and of course he's underestimated the amount of time he actually has to correct things. I love how every week he budgets his time so carefully and then uses such unpredictable materials that you can actually hear them laughing when he's not around. What was meant to be nine bomb-babies is now down to three, if that.

Everybody bleeds into Nicole's jars, squicking everybody out. Mark -- and get a load of this stunning lack of self-inventory -- calls it all very "amateurish" and unshocking: "Are you a freshman in college?" he asks, rhetorically, and then goes right back to Photoshopping his little girl's bloody panties rape piece.

We knew Mark was a shallow artist, but the arrogance with which he disses somebody else's work -- and not even for the right reasons! -- is a huge turn-off. She's not being shocking because of the blood and spit, you halfwit, she's making art about amputated thumbs. The materials are just a little extra grossness on top of the actual idea, which, for an artist, a sculptor, actually has merit. But then I guess you don't really need thumbs for Photoshopping spooky pictures of clowns, now, do ya.

I just got my Goop email, which means this recap is officially 45 minutes late. On the upside, rest easy: Gwyneth's on top of this whole "fossil fuels" thing.

Miles worries about the shocking, unstimulating nature of his piece, and decides to do something truly horrific... Oh, Miles. Don't. I know what you're thinking, don't do it. Do not masturbate onto that art.

Miles runs off and masturbates all over the art.

This episode is sort of about my stuff with Miles. Firstly, I bet you one hundred dollars that he was born in or near the first week

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Work of Art

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