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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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