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Miles plots and China Chow cries in Bravo's 'Work of Art'

July 29, 2010 | 10:37 am

Workofart

As the number of contestants dwindles and the competition approaches its final stages, Bravo's reality series "Work of Art" has taken on distinct hues of gloom and unease. The normally icy host, China Chow, even showed her emotional side by openly weeping on Wednesday's episode.

This week's challenge paired off the remaining contestants to tackle a series of opposing themes -- male versus female, order versus chaos and heaven versus hell. Each pair had to create a conjoined work of art that would address one set of opposites -- but the pairings produced their own oppositions in the form of interpersonal disagreement and resentment.

Abdi had trouble conceptualizing his order-versus-chaos assignment with Nicole. His halfhearted attempt at a sculpture that symbolized chaos was abandoned in favor of a painting that would compliment Nicole's gears-and-pulleys mechanical contraption.

Mark clashed with Peregrine on their heaven-versus-hell project. Peregrine wanted to use Mark's abdominal scar as the subject of their artwork, but Mark expressed reservations, only to back down from his objections in order to be a good sport.

But in art as in life, being a good sport doesn't necessarily count for much and shameless self-promoters rule the day.

Miles, who worked with Jaclyn on the male-versus-female assignment, revealed his manipulative and predatory side by quietly maneuvering his partner into taking off her clothes for her portion of the project. As shown in previous episodes, Jaclyn doesn't need much encouragement to strip, but her initial hesitation was sanded away by her partner's smooth insistence.

The Machiavellian machinations of Miles continued into the judging section, which brought with it some unexpected tears. (Spoilers below.)

China As he has done before, Miles openly attacked a fellow contestant in front of the judges. During the critique, he chastised Mark for giving in to Peregrine and cruelly mocked his slightly hang-dog mannerisms.

In the end, Miles' and Jaclyn's project was the winner. Their triptych featured panels that juxtaposed male rage (symbolized by holes punched through wood) and female desire (represented by a self-portrait of Jaclyn pleasuring herself).

The loser was Mark, whose depiction of his abdominal scar the judges found uninspired and cliched. In announcing the judges' decision, Chow fought back tears of sympathy for Mark. Her first-ever display of emotion suggests that the verdict might not have been unanimous and that the judges' seemingly united front is anything but that. 

As one commenter on this blog noted, contestants who have voiced skepticism about Miles end up being whacked. Do the judges have a prejudicial soft spot for him? (At the very least, critic Jerry Saltz seems  smitten.)

Mark's exit on Wednesday leaves the path wide open for Miles' domination.

-- David Ng

Upper photo: Miles and Jaclyn, standing at left, explain their work of art. Credit: Bravo

Lower photo: China Chow weeps. Credit: Bravo

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