As I left The Brick last night after the viewing party for the grand finale of Bravo’s Work of Art I had the lead to this post all figured out. It went something like: Fuck New York. Those uptight, monochromatic, over-edited, p.c. control freak art world overlords need to get the hell out of their concrete canyons and go to a goddam county fair!
I was fuming. It was so obvious to me that KC artist Peregrine Honig deserved to win.
What made it worse was I was convinced she was going to win. Not just because of the half-baked theories I’ve posted here, but because as The Brick was filling up with the absolutely coolest people on the face of earth there was a rumor going around that Peregrine’s husband, Mark Southerland, had quit his job and bought a motorcycle, or something like that.
And, as if that weren’t bad enough, the dude who won, Abdi Farah, is absolutely impossible to hate. He told the camera’s he was going to give all the money to his mom and it was beautiful to see him so happy after he’d worked his ass off through the season-long competition and made an almost miraculous transformation as an artist.
But still. Next to Peregrine’s final body of work, with its pink ponies and cotton candy and deer fetuses and people puking and all the extremes and beauty and awefulness of human experience, Abdi’s sculptures, paintings and photographs of bodies in hiding felt so East Coast and, as judge/critic Jerry Saltz observed, “melodramatic.”
Plus, Peregrine seemed to be the only one of the three who really seized on the show itself, the weird spectacle of a summer cable reality show about contemporary art. She used it as a medium like any other, like the wax in her sculptures and the paint and the large-format photography, so that her final project was not only the stuff in the gallery but the show about the stuff in the gallery, too.
And let me just say this: I hated that the only beef the judges seemed to have about Peregrine’s exhibition was that there was too much of it. Like I said, uptight, monochromatic, over-edited, p.c. control freak art world overlords.
But then I got home and read Saltz’s recap and I could see that it was more of a toss-up between Peregrine and Abdi’s work than I was willing to admit at first.
About Abdi’s work, he wrote that it “probably won