ARTLURKER

A Miami based contemporary art newsletter / blog

Bravo Casting Call for Untitled Art Project

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February 28, 2005. Hopefuls line up for ARTSTAR, the world’s first art reality television show presented by Deitch Projects and Gallery HD. Photo credit: Seth Sherman.

In 2005 auditions were held for ARTSTAR, an eight-episode art world reality television show produced by Jeffrey Deitch, a SoHo art dealer, and Voom, a high-definition satellite network. Aired the following year with appearances by an impressive host of top critics and artists the show, widely regarded to be the first of its kind, culminated in an eight-person group exhibition at Deitch Projects entitled ARTSTAR. Tomorrow Fredric Snitzer Gallery, Miami, will host the South Florida leg of nationwide casting calls for Untitled Art Project, a new art based reality television show destined for Bravo that is being produced by Sarah Jessica Parker’s company Pretty Matches and Magical Elves, the company who brought you Top Chef.

As yet we don’t know what to expect from the show and so the many burning questions such as “how awful will this really be” and “what does the art world stand to gain” remain largely unanswered. In regard to the timing, however, which is arguably five years behind schedule, Sarah Jessica Parker cited the presence of the nation’s new “art-positive president.” “Fortuitous” she told Artnet.

“How do you go from struggling, emerging or even semi-established artist to selling a complete show for $198 million? It’s a big art world out there, but maybe this is one place to start!” – Bravo.

So who will audition? Apart from the inevitable throngs of unknown hopefuls, who already established within Miami’s emerging scene is likely to apply? Surely the only artists that stand to gain anything from participating in such a circus are those who either seek to destroy it from the inside out, or those whose work and persona are so enmeshed that they are able to create a perfect storm of innocence and incomprehensibility around them. And let us not forget the more senior members of our community who are simply past caring what ‘people’ think.

On June 16, 2006, Deitch was quoted as saying, “In the 1970s no self-respecting artist would have stood in line to try to get on a television show.” Critics at the time argued that this was still the case; in the real world artists don’t line up to get famous. As it turned out, however, in 2006 there was at least one self-respecting artist [group] that did:

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February 28, 2005. Bruce High Quality auditions for ARTSTAR. Photo credit: Seth Sherman.

On a frigid Monday morning in Februrary, 2005, as line of miserable looking student types clutching crappy paintings snaked three blocks from Deitch Projects on Wooster Street in SoHo, New York, a large pinched foam head attached to a trolley came rolling into view. This was the debut of Bruce High Quality, a character based around the idea of a dead artist, a social sculptor, who although much of his oeuvre was destroyed according to his wishes upon his demise, his legacy lives on, again according to his wishes, via the efforts of The Bruce High Quality Foundation, a group of Brooklyn based emerging artists. With satirical abandon and a great deal of skill, the Bruce High Quality crew – huddled together behind the head beneath umbrellas and plastic sheeting – lip-synced the foam head to adlibbed text-to-speak responses typed into an on board computer throughout the audition. With comebacks like “I am a lonely creature, as an artist must be. I am the long-sustained, langorous keynote, waiting for a wish, fearing its fulfillment” Deitch, famed among other things for touting the unconventional, offered their offensive yet brilliant asses a place on the show. Their subsequent refusal to participate evidenced their integrity.

Too often contemporary art pretends or rather portends to be something of important social, cultural and aesthetic value, but in the context of reality television it can really only be about money. This is tolerated of most industries, however, art is supposed to have more to it.

In America television is now considered one of the lowest social denominators. Partly due to the extreme lack of demands placed upon its networks by the majority of their audiences, it has become little more than a default form of entertainment for people who haven’t made any decisions. Not only is that a poor incentive to audition, but when the assumption is that all artists want fame – which is not the same as saying everyone on Wall Street wants money or everyone in government wants power – it reduces a job that at its best is invested in intellectual and aesthetic science, to a matter of mere celebrity. To many this is degrading – kind of the same degrading that we Miamians feel around the time that Art Basel comes to town.  Now were not saying that there’s anything wrong with wanting notoriety and money, just that a person with those priorities won’t necessarily make great art.

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Fredric Snizer in his gallery. Photo via Wet Heat.

Ironically it seems the show’s best hope is to ape the model of ARTSTAR, which to its credit (despite being a failure) mercifully avoided clichés of reality television such as weekly eliminations and edits that overemphasize the more salacious of the contestant’s personal interactions. If it does this, however, it will almost certainly be ranked as a redundant take-off. At least when this happens the dubious ties that those selected as finalists will no doubt be revealed t0 have to those acting as impartial judges will largely be forgotten. And with Fredric Snitzer and other Miami art professionals rumored to have more than a passing involvement in proceedings, the future irrelevance of any behind the scenes trickery will no doubt turn out to be a blessing for Miami.

Note: The success of ARTSTAR was overshadowed by the coming to light of a variety of prior relationships which finalists had to both the judges and to Deitch projects. One finalist Sy Colen was the father of a successful artist represented by Deitch Projects and another, Bec Stupak, had appeared multiple times in Deitch’s 2005 book “Live Through This.”

The few things working in favor of this project are the ambitions of the producers to make their show as big as the Turner Prize and to de-mystify the art world to the general public. However, the likelihood that this will backfire making a mockery of our industry and exaggerating the already cynical attitude harbored by the public toward the validity of contemporary art is totally likely.

“Are you concerned about the rising cost of tuition? Are you concerned about the recent dominance of the art market in higher education? That artistic achievement and celebrity are becoming virtually indistinguishable? Professional problems deserve amateur solutions. Introducing the BHQFU, a radical pedagogical experiment of The Bruce High Quality Foundation that opens on Sept. 11, 2009 in Bushwick, Brooklyn. To get involved, send an email to thebrucehighqualityfoundation@gmail.com.” – The Bruce High Quality Foundation.

Despite Artnet quoting Sarah Jessica Parker as saying that the aspirations for the show are “pretty democratic” it is obvious to all that in order to make the show successful then those depicted on it have to be at least a little telegenic. Not only that, but like ARTSTAR which was criticized as being an extended infomercial for Deitch Projects, we can expect to hear glowing reports of all participating cities and galleries. These implications immediately scupper any chance the production had of authenticity and cast what little hope anyone had of its redemption onto the cold fires of public [text voting] indifference. But then again, this comes as no surprise as reality TV isn’t really reality, but of course we knew that already, right?

Running parallel to the Bravo auditions is another less publicized art reality show in the making which, if the producers raise their million and manage to have hopefuls sign crippling two year contacts, will air on fox.

Below is the ARTSTAR audition diary of the mighty The Bruce High Quality Foundation.

Bruce High Quality’s diarist video about his audition for Jeffrey Deitch’s ARTSTAR reality television show.

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32 Comments

  • Richard Haden

    Once upon a time, there was a book written by Guy Debord titled: “Society of the Spectacle”. Debord and his band of “Situationist” raged on and on about the damaged perpetuated to modern society by concrete concepts and strategies designed to further capitalism growth through the colonizing mechanism of one way passive communication… to perpetuate itself in an environment of alienation and isolation — to sell false consciousness in inauthentic conformism… accomplished through living indirectly through models of re-presentation. Bla bla and so on. BRAVO.

    The Society of the Spectacle

    by Guy-Ernest Debord

    Chapter 1 “Separation Perfected”

    But certainly for the present age, which prefers the sign to the thing signified, the copy to the original, representation to reality, the appearance to the essence… illusion only is sacred, truth profane. Nay, sacredness is held to be enhanced in proportion as truth decreases and illusion increases, so that the highest degree of illusion comes to be the highest degree of sacredness.

    http://library.nothingness.org/articles/SI/en/display/16

  • Stop Miami Danny

    “And with Fredric Snitzer and other Miami art professionals rumored to have more than a passing involvement in proceedings…” What exactly do you mean? ‘Rumored’ by whom and as to what? You are putting down the supposed sleaziness of reality TV with innuendo and, well, sleaze. Do you have evidence of any (cue the music) nefarious behavior? Then bring it out. Otherwise you are just playing the ‘defame’ game.

    Second, the ‘other’ arts reality series is called ‘Work of Genius’. http://theleadmiamibeach.com/2009/071009/arts.html

    Third, ‘crippling contracts’???? Exactly how is making a shitload of money for doing what you already do, crippling? Saying that one should not care, or does not care, about money, is spiritual snobbery, a great man once said.

    Fourth,What will you do, what will you say, when your fave/shmave artists show up to apply for the show? How could they (cue the music)? You also say that Artstar was a ‘failure’, but that its “success” was overshadowed, etc., etc. Is it possible that Artstar was both a success and a failure at the same time? Now THAT is a neat trick that only Deitch, and maybe Snitzer, could pull off.

  • swampthing

    Live bloggin’ from miami at 99 degrees. The cattle call is as swampy as it gets here. With bottled water and portfolios one by one prospective dreamers from across the nation are processed through the humiliation machine. the judges are, in the most part, miami mavens so it is hard for local artists to get an unbiased scrutiny. Better humiliated now than later on TV…

    A sweltering affair… the reality seems dreadfully scripted.

  • Mr. Arrow

    If you are selected as a potential contestant, you must execute waivers and release agreements, including, but not limited to, an Applicant Agreement, Release and Arbitration Provisions and other agreement(s) as required by the Producer or the Network, or any of their licensees, successors or assigns.

    The shit people will eat just to get a glimpse of attention.

    Meanwhile Bravo can bend you over and carve their logo on your ass and all you can do is say thank you.

    I hope everyone “WINS”!

  • Aramis

    Nice article Tom. And in response to Stop Miami Danny: Completely asinine reality show aside, anytime the usual suspects congregate together to lend their “unbiased” professional opinions for yet another pageant the results are always questionably obvious.

    Seriously, who needs rumor when our academics turn a blind eye on an obvious conflict of interests and go from being champions of contemporary art to filters for Bravo reality TV? I guess the crappiness required by the latter excuses the necessity of the prior.

  • Richard Haden

    Miami Danny wrote:

    “how is making a shitload of money for doing what you already do, crippling? Saying that one should not care, or does not care, about money, is spiritual snobbery, a great man once said”.

    How is not caring about money, somehow a question or an expression of “spiritual snobbery”? If you think there is an answer to such a question I suspect you don’t even realize how ignorant the question is in the first place…what… you think money is a motivating factor for artist– or that the cash cow of TV production is somehow a means to an end of artist production…by thinking money first–art poser projection second–you have just written the script for the Bravo spectacle…

    I suppose that you must be in the entertainment business–so you are correct to think about value the way you do…It is all about ratings and money, however, beyond that shallow world of pastiche and the pretense of manufacturing artist identity, their were a few jurors who were not particularly enthusiastic by the forced enlistment–to see to it that there be some kind of damage control in maintaining the semblance of a real Miami art community– on the Bravo channel…no one wants the Miami arts scene to look as already retarded as does the image of Miami as a tourist destination…

    Oh Danny, I mean, O Stop it Miami Danny…you apparently don’t understand how irrelevant tattooed dollar signs are to the mode of being in art… instead of playing as one of das man– planted fool– in the audience looking to defend plasma TV’s passive viewing pleasure you might try, instead, looking for the more or less insurgent power of the arts thing that mows over your own being as an unsolicited art attitude.

    You are without famous sayings.

    Bravo that.

  • Richard Haden

    Albert Camus wrote: “[w]e might see communism as a springboard and asceticism that prepares the ground for more spiritual activities”.

    Miami Danny,

    You have to understand that just because some marketing idiot takes an Authors quote, Camus words, out of context does not mean that Camus favored the driving forse of capitalism. Camus was not a capitalist nor was he really an existentialist either. He often gets lumped into that genre because– that was his time. In a nut shell, Camus denies the absolute such as “ultimate purposes” or even the need to ask such absurd questions about humanities ultimate purpose…Camus was close to but not willing to be called a marxist…and he was more or less famous for being in the circle of his day as well as for his reflects on the experience of the Absurd. In 1942 he published the story of a man living an Absurd life…also, he was the youngest writer to win the nobel prize for literature.

    He was against the “Absolute Junkies” as he was more in line with that of a pagan or pre judeo / christian thinker / writer…I can’t see with all this, that he really gave money all that much weight as motivating forse.

  • Aramis

    No worries Danny.

    Hopefully Bert R. makes it on to the show. He is the only artist I have heard of making it to the second stage whom I believe won’t be blindsided by his own self-imposed sincerity.

  • VALDES IS COMING

    the next stage is making a video about yourself and sending it out to LA for further examination. I heard of 10 artists that got to this point, some I know but won’t name.

    “Completely asinine reality show aside, anytime the usual suspects congregate together to lend their “unbiased” professional opinions for yet another pageant the results are always questionably obvious.”

    Bravo!

  • Mister Arrow

    Hopfully it will be a show full of Berts or Bertlike people.
    If the show is to succeed it will need to be like Survivor and America’s Next Top Model with a little Dancing with the Stars mixed with The Apprentice and The Batchelor, only x rated.

  • swampthing

    wait, i heart b.r. as much as the next cube -am, but in the teevee biz it is very possible for one to be attacked from an expected position (disqualified) by ones own honesty and lack of hypocrisy, hollywood is a minefield. If sanctified, when inside the belly of beast. bert will display that insurgent leprechaun spirit we’ve come to expect, but it won’t be enough to grab the prize. He will be there to add credibility to realiTV, aka phony-baloney.

  • Mister Arrow

    Reality Television is one notch above the Latin Telenovela, it’s like the “thinking persons” novela.

    A quasi-intellectual, passive blood sport.

    If Bert thinks he can subvert the process and enlighten the masses in the process, I will enjoy hearing about it.

    Once again Miami’s Art Scene has it’s collective “dick in a knot” because people with influence have come from abroad to take a closer look. It’s like Art Basel in July! Lets poke the natives with a stick and watch them dance!

  • Richard Haden

    don’t tell Bravo but I know some one named (____) who made it to the second round, who said that if they had to sign their life away they were going to use my name–instead.

  • Magenta

    I wonder what the challenges will be. Create a hat for SJP out of “Michael’s” spring clearance sale? Oh, wait a minute..
    never mind…;)

  • swampthing

    just left the editing room where B.O. was scrambling to finish his 5 minute bio-video. third round players had 4 days to submit a teaser of themselves…

  • Mister Arrow

    Once again Miami’s Art Scene has got its collective “dick in a knot” because the “importantant” people from out of town have come to watch us dance like an art monkey with a brush and black beret.
    it’s like artbasel in July!

  • Richard Haden

    Arrow, but at least with Basel we get to have conversations with out of towners. With Bravo its truly a circus act…another kind of conversation at more a base level.

  • VALDES IS COMING

    I talked to a close friend today, who in short is a studio hand who paints large scale work for Jeff Koons… she decided to check out the casting call today in Zoo York. Says she was in line for 7 hours today. A thousand people showed up…the big apple is a rat race after all?

  • Richard Haden

    Perhaps Damian Hirst will get around to embalming Jeff Koons…now that would make a good reality TV show for Bravo. Koons embalmed in formaldehyde playing live!!! With floating basket balls sitting on a stainless steel wabbit. That’s got to be worth millions.

  • Valdes is coming

    She made it to the 3 round where you have to make a video of yourself in 3 days. She said the judges were Jerry Saltz, Simon de Pury and some people from London who she have time to figure out who they were.

  • soundbites

    I appreciate artists’ posts about their experience.
    I wish no artist showed up for this circus, sorry but those who participated in ‘auditions’ are enabling the degradation of our profession by Bravo.

  • tony montana

    Good Luck to the lucky people who made it to the third round,
    don’t sweat what people think, Hate is the new love. you can only make yourself happy and most people i’ve met are unhappy. I think the show will be a great experience for who ever makes it.

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Bravo Casting Call for Untitled Art Project