WOA: The Rise of The Sucklord

Posted on October 13, 2011

It’s BACK, darlings!

And y’know? We kind of missed it. We didn’t even realized we liked it all that much until this episode got underway and we found ourselves all caught up in the proceedings. Since we’ve pretty much reached the end of our rope when it comes to the mess that calls itself Project Runway, allow us to make some comparisons.
First, the fabulous China Chow in a Dion Lee dress. Why is the host of this show infinitely more stylish than the leg-baring, increasingly cougar-ish host of Project Runway? Second, Simon de Pury, who is what Tim Gunn used to be before he either got marginalized from, or lost interest in, the proceedings; sharp, clever, enthusiastic and just bizarre enough to make you wonder why this man is on your television. Together, they make a great pair. Jerry is the Nina of the group and we’re all for someone playing Bad Judge, but he does have to tone it down a bit. He’s playing to the cameras too much. Bill seems to be high throughout the judging process, but he occasionally blurts out something meaningful.

And no B-list actresses sitting in the guest judge seat for this show:

No, it’s an honest to god artist who isn’t there to play to the cameras, knows how to give a critique…

… and has the iconic, if not downright legendary bona fides to back up her opinions. Sure, we can get all huffy about the commoditization of art and dumbing it down for a mass audience, but the fact that there’s a show on TV that actually talks about art at all and brings the viewer into both the creative and the critical processes is pretty damn cool.

We thought, when the bios of the contestants were first released, that we were looking at a bunch of photogenic attention whores and camera hogs, and while there was plenty of playing to the cameras (Sucklord), we were astonished at how talented the majority of this cast really is. Their introductory self-portrait pieces were almost all of fairly high quality, thoughtfulness, and aesthetic value.

Besides, The Sucklord is a superstar. You know it’s true. He clearly wants to be on TV and if Bravo gave him his own hipster-geek artist TV show after this season, we wouldn’t complain a bit.
We even liked the challenge. There’s a criticism – one that we’ve made in the past and one that we won’t deny is still evident – that the show is more “crafty” than “arty,” but that’s a conceit you’re going to have to accept if you want to watch. Project Runway is no more about the real world of fashion than this show is about art. It’s about watching talented, creative people jump through hoops while displaying their own creative processes and a bit of what makes them artists. In other words, it’s what Project Runway used to be before the producers decided we all wanted to watch people fight all the time.

So congrats to Michelle. We’re calling it now: she’s One To Watch.
This was shockingly good, both from a technical perspective as well as an aesthetic one. Paper art can get awfully folksy and craftsy in less talented hands, but if we were walking through a gallery, this would stop us in our tracks.

And we thought her entry this week was quietly beautiful and serene, with a dark undertone that raised it up. She took the kitschiest piece of roadside art you could find and turned it into something ethereal and thought-provoking.

Also – not gonna lie – we loved her dress.

Let’s look at the other ladies in the top 3 before we get to the men on the bottom.
We were struck by Sara’s technique. She’s very good, but we’re a bit concerned that she’s going to be the stereotypical “dark, tortured” soul.

And truth be told, her entry didn’t exactly banish those thoughts.
Granted, she almost had to produce something dark considering she managed to zero in on the one piece of kitsch in the room that was pretty dark to begin with.
We’re more than confused as to what the rules of the challenge were. We thought – and apparently so did many of the artists – that they were supposed to use some recognizable part of the original piece and rethink it, but she merely made her own piece based on the original. The judges didn’t seem to mind and we suspect the dictates of the challenge were deliberately fluid so the artists could interpret them however they look.

Her work reminds us of children’s book illustrations, only very dark and with a violent, sexual undertone.
We thought we weren’t going to like Lola, since she seemed awfully self-indulgent and appeared to be going for the camera time by waiting until the last second to pick her inspiration piece and then fucking around with it for too long without any concept of what she was doing.

And even when she seemed to pull it together, we weren’t inclined to like the direction she was going in. “I hate my childhood” is quite the tiresome cliche, after all. But this work was interesting and thought-provoking and gave you that tension between the light and the heavy; the elusive and the permanent. It was a perfect deconstruction/reconstruction of the original and expressed her inner self very well.

It’s au revoir to Ugo and we has a sad. Not that we didn’t think he deserved to go, but we’re sad the pretty has gone from our TV so soon.
We both blurted out “KEITH HARING” the second we saw this. Either he’s stubborn or he’s delusional because everybody who had anything to say about his work said the same thing and he didn’t seem to think it was an issue at all.

Haring’s work is so distinct that if you’re going to attempt to work in the same style, you better bring something new to the table. Otherwise, you might as well start painting soup cans or sunflowers. We’re going with delusional for him, because he seemed to have left thinking the problem was the red background when in fact the problem was what everyone told him it was: he was ripping off a very famous artist.
We didn’t have high hopes for Bayete when we saw his self-portrait. It couldn’t have been less inspired or more of a cliche.

And the same could be said for his final piece. As the judges noted, it ultimately said nothing. What he claimed it was trying to say just wasn’t evident and the piece itself was overdone and ugly. It was a series of buzzwords in art form.
We know he’s going to be a huge dick at some point and we’ll probably wind up hating him, but for now we find The Sucklord to be a breath of fresh air in a sea of pretension.

We tend to think his ability to work the camera and be entertaining had more to do with his non-elimination because this was painfully bad. Sure, he admitted it, but that doesn’t take away from its awfulness. He’d have been better off picking an original piece that wasn’t so nerd-specific and imposing his nerd sensibilities on it, rather than picking something that was already nerdy and just doing it over. We think there’s a place for his work in the art world (as does Simon, apparently, since he sold some of his pieces), but he’s going to have to learn to tailor his downtown hipster-geek toy aesthetic to the competition. Playing to the camera is only going to get him so far.

We’ll get to to the other artists later, but what did the minions think of last night’s show and this season’s cast?

[Screencaps: tomandlorenzo.com]

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