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Bravo's 'Work of Art' -- the gloves come off and things get ugly (but in a good way)

July 15, 2010 | 11:33 am

Erik On Wednesday's episode of "Work of Art," emotional fireworks erupted in a major way, creating a spectacular display of inter-personal drama and bringing some much-needed dramatic spark to what had been a mostly staid and somewhat dull reality series.

This week's challenge was to create a public art installation that would occupy an empty park space in downtown New York. The contestants were divided into two groups, with each team collaborating to create a single work of art.

Almost immediately, conflict arose between Erik, the moody, tattooed loner, and Miles, the pretentious art-school hipster. Erik repeatedly accused his teammate of not listening to his ideas and he soon began sulking like a petulant child. The toxic atmosphere quickly infected the entire team, but they managed to pull together long enough to create a kind of post-modern jungle gym with a curved back and a skin made of metallic scales.

Meanwhile, the other team appeared to work harmoniously and without apparent conflict. Using a design conceived by Nicole, they created a multi-component installation featuring abstract, rock-like formations. The final creation allowed visitors to sit, recline and appreciate the open sky and surrounding environment.

Despite all of the hard work being done, the show kept returning to the battle between introverted Erik and self-satisfied Miles.

At one point, Erik nursed his woes with Ryan, who seemed to share his dislike of Miles. Ryan even performed an amusing imitation of Miles' affected personal style. Mark also joined in the anti-Miles club, saying in an interview that he shares some of Erik's complaints about the precious golden boy.

(You can see some of this footage in an interactive feature on Bravo's website titled "Who thinks Miles is a douche?")

Erik's unapologetic loathing of his teammates became more aggressive toward the end of the show. He withdrew almost completely from the project and threw one fit after another. His kamikaze swan dive reached cataclysmic proportions when he shouted a string of bleeped expletives to Miles, Jaclyn and Peregrine.

So charged was the atmosphere that the judges' final decision felt like an afterthought. (Spoilers below.)

The judges crowned the abstract boulder garden as the winning work of art. The team, which consisted of Nicole, Abdi, Mark and Ryan, was given the chance to elect who among them would be the week's victor. (Bragging rights only, not for immunity in next week's challenge, said host China Chow.) The team chose Nicole, giving the artist her first win for the series.

Not surprisingly, the panel voted to send Erik home. His outbursts during the post-competition review seemed to appall the judges.

Erik's departure may not bode well of the series overall, since he was the sole contestant who was willing to risk being offensive, unlikable and unpredictable. In a TV genre marked by formula and stock personality types, Erik was a rock in the shoe who will be missed.

-- David Ng

Photo: Erik on "Work of Art." Credit: Bravo.

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Comments () | Archives (5)

Miles won on the first day because he fits the bill that is comfortable with art dealers. Smart, Attractive, talented enough, trendy, passive aggressive in a cute sleepy way and is clever enough to back off to authority, but he will cut a throat when he senses the way the wind is blowing in a popularity contest. He’s attractive to dealers because he somehow he feels like a rich kid who has already made it. The art world likes a sense of entitlement if it’s somehow quietly innate. I really admire him.
A heart on his sleeve tough looking rebel like Erik doesn’t stand a chance in that world, unless he can change and learn to play the game by becoming an “Art Pussy” himself. In the end I can understand that Miles makes sense to a salesman as having the most potential. Thus is the rub of the show’s biased judging this week. He’s my favorite, but Miles was the leader, he needed to take the fall. He overworked his basic idea loosing its simple elegance of the sketch and was a selfish team leader. Thus a strong argument to have prizes each week, but to keep everyone until the end and judge his or her overall work for a final winner. I don't have a problem with any of the judges; it's just there needs to be a curator, an art critic and an artist and finally one dealer for a fair balance. Also as others said more time, often the judge’s comments about the tasks are unreasonable in not taking that reality into account.

Well, my socks remain firmly fixed in place. I thought the two pieces were neither very good nor very bad. (And I just...don't...have...the energy...to rank them.) I would enjoy more show time dedicated to artists doing art rather than bleeping at each other. Dunno if I'll miss Erik, but I will miss his ears.
Bottom line for me: No idea where this show is headed (or my critiques of same), but hoping something bizarre and worthwhile will crop up. Maybe from a challenge along the lines of, 'Today you will create something that will undoubtedly displease each & every judge.'

No more comments - is this a statement? Or is it because this review of the latest show has been buried in the Culture Monster section? (Noting that the review of the show 2 weeks back, the book-cover one, is still in the main Arts & Culture section.)

There are almost no comments on any CM art reviews these last few days, overall supposedly great contemporary art rarely gets a peep unless it’s a snarky comment. A lot of reactors to complaints about disliking crappie art, but little passion for declaring why they like something. Ironic as this reviewer is the most engaged the reviewer and viewers of the show have been since the shows start. At the Bravo blog this episode lead to a firestorm of comments many “quitting” the show due To Erik’s railroading by his teammates.

What is this strange infatuation with Miles? The guy is a HACK if he went through a sausage factory art school. He is neither insightful nor creative, and his petulance adds insult to injury when he's knocking others' work down. Who is he to say that something is boring, or safe, or anything when his work is equally paltry, cliche and uninspired. He looks like a boyish version of Dylan Baker, if you know who that is. I liked Erik, Ryan, Mark. Those people were the salt of the earth. But Miles, Jacqlyn, Peregrine...they are the people who kick you when you are down. If you ask me, the show is a sham.


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