Darlings, last-minute holiday preparations are keeping us from providing entertainment to our minions, so expect posting to be sporadic until Monday.
To its credit, Work of Art doesn’t really trade in over-the-top reality show melodrama. Sure, an artist cries almost every week and some of them are a bit too comfortable in front of a camera, but for the most part, it’s about the work at the end.
So the home visit scenes were pretty much stock “Here is a parent/dead parent and the person I sleep with” introductions to the finalists’ lives outside the workroom. Charming enough. They’re all pretty likable people; another mark in the show’s favor. They don’t push assholes through to the finals because they make good television.
And besides, Simon’s always a barrel of fun.
Honestly, there’s not much more to say than that. We didn’t have a stake in the outcome, but that’s because we would have been okay with any of them winning it. Oh sure, we were leaning toward either of the ladies taking it, but if Young had won, we wouldn’t have protested.
Oh China Chow, you adorable little fashion pixie. How we’ll miss you.
So congrats to Kymia! We were cracking jokes throughout the episode because she was crying every 45 seconds or so, but all bitchiness aside, we think it’s that very sensitivity that made her work so exemplary this time around.
In some ways, this exhibition put Young’s to shame. They both wound up exploring the same subject matter, but she managed a much more interpretive, haunting way to do so.
We agreed with the judges that the coffins were a bit iffy.
And that the head piece was pretty great.
Lorenzo is determined to purchase a print of this one.
Exploring death through art is not only not a new idea; it’s one of the very oldest of ideas. And mounting a show that consisted almost entirely of drawings was risky, given the way the judges tend to see things. But no one could deny that her images were haunting and striking, full of love, reverence, and longing without being obvious or saccharine about it. Even on TV, the quality of these pieces really shown through.
Sarah had some really strong pieces in this exhibit, but we think her starting point was weak. It was Post Secret in gallery format. “People have secrets” is no less profound an idea than “My father died,” but the other two participants did manage ways to take that very basic theme and make it personal and affecting. There was something of the observer about the concept here. And that’s fine; there is art to be found in the standing back and observing, but we didn’t feel connected to Sara through these pieces. We didn’t feel like she was saying anything we had to stop and listen to, for the most part.
Although we really did like the performance aspect of the show.
And thought the birdcage was the best of the pieces, with the mattress a close second. As China said when she saw the latter, “That’s intense.” The human hair lingerie was interesting, but we didn’t quite get the point. We really didn’t like the spider web at all, but the drawings were pretty great.
At first we were annoyed that she wasn’t second place, because we felt her work was more interesting and a bit stronger than Young’s, but talking it out like this, we realize we had more problems with the work than we thought. As we said, the very concept behind it wasn’t all that intriguing. “People have secrets” is like saying “People get sad.”
China was deeply moved by Young’s work and we were deeply moved by that. We were not, however, as deeply moved as we thought we should have been by the work itself.
The images are haunting and sad; beautiful in the way they make death seem mundane. Using his dead father’s shirts and things left in his pockets was a great idea, but Young didn’t really do anything interesting with any of them. Hanging the shirts up like laundry didn’t make them more interesting or have more of an impact.
Obviously we don’t know Young, but we got the impression that he had effectively moved on from his father’s death and that this exhibition didn’t have the same impact that Kymia’s did because she clearly hasn’t gotten over her father’s death. That’s not to say that Young is “over it;” just that we got the impression both from the way he talked about it and this exhibition that he’s further along in the grief process than Kymia is and thus, his work on the same topic didn’t have the raw feel that hers had. This was less an art show than it was an interestingly staged memorial. A good, but not great show.
All in all, the judging shook out exactly as it should have. This show doesn’t bring a lot of fireworks and melodrama, but it does quietly become something you look forward to watching every week. And it helps that, for a reality show, there’s some intelligence and expression on display. We’re gonna miss it.