Remember Work of Art? Before Gallery Girls took over as the art world’s favorite hatewatch, another Bravo reality show pitted artists against each other, in the custom of Project Runway. Over its brief, two-season run, a panel of judges (some genuinely equipped with decades of knowledge and judging experience, others just famous) determined the success or failure of a piece. If you watched that show, and you were an artist, you probably knew how infuriating it is that socialite-model China Chow officially stands between you and the cover of Bluecanvas Magazine (pretty much a juried version of deviantART. Yes, that was a prize).
But despite Bravo’s best attempt to stifle great art, something good might come out of this after all. In his latest show "ARTSTAR" at Zach Feuer, artist Mark Flood has animated Work of Art judges’ faces and gifted them with foul-mouthed, text-to-speech voices. The judges give two crits while blankly smiling at the camera, which occasionally cuts away to the artists: figures in white sheets, tied at the neck. Crit #1 takes “imagine the filthiest toilet seat in the world" as its starting point, and ends up at critic Jerry Saltz’s assessment that “two good blows on the [artist’s] head should do it.” Socialite-gallerist Bill Powers stops him there, because he thinks “a quick merciful death” may be “too good for the subhuman turd.” But there are so many great quotes, it’s hard to pick the best.
The judges do like the next piece, which we never see, and they agree with gallerist Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn:
This is what I live for. Why I slog through studio visit after studio visit. Why I plough through the rocky wastelands of mediocrity that every art professional has to face. It’s because every so often...every once in awhile...you find a vein of pure, 24 carat gold, in that infinite mountain of shit.
Maybe it amounts to a big fuck-you to the New York establishment, but Flood baldly states the criteria that, perhaps, we take at face value. It comes from Jerry’s mouth:
To be a real artist takes courage, and you have no courage. It takes guts to dive into the infinite abyss of reality and struggle back to the community with some treasure of insight and craft.
Mark Flood’s “Let’s Start Your Crit” will be on view as part of his show ARTSTAR at Zach Feuer through October 13th. His next show “BUSHWICK BASEMENT” opens in Bushwick tonight, October 5th, at Grimm Schultz Gallery, 313 Linden Street, at 6 PM. He’s made a video for that, too: