Work Of Art: Episode 8, Cash Box

12/08/2011 07:47 pm ET | Updated Feb 07, 2012

This week brought us to the street, again. In Tribeca Park, the artists became street vendors. The challenge brought into sharp focus the fine line between the street and the white walls of a gallery; context being everything. The ghost of Duchamp played chess nearby. On the street, we buy an experience through a keepsake--our souvenir binds us to the event--but the gallery requires a more abstract experience.

So, we had the final six, with $30,000 at stake. In my opinion, the producers made a huge error in allowing the team who hawked the most to win this pot. Had the judges had veto power, we would have handed the cash to Lola, the ultimate hustler of this episode, as she questioned morals and art. She acted on her feet, smartly. She played dirty. She got naked. She lied and told the truth.


Rather than the messy process of painting, cutting, sculpting, etc., through Kymia and Lola we witness the conceptualizing of an idea, and what it takes to turn this into art. Upon hearing the challenge, Lola admits her desire to say everything bad about herself. We see her writing such in her notebook. Kymia then asks if the group has a problem with her idea to exchange signatures. Lola's knee-jerk response is to challenge. But then, she quickly re-adjusts. Intuitively, she grabs Kymia's idea of this "art exchange" and makes it her own. Moreover, on the street she moves from the possibility of selling a benign hug, to selling the extreme: a coveted secret.

Meanwhile, as decoy, the show cuts to Young, turned kitsch Calvin Klein underwear model, and to Sara, playing a bit part of Native American in a bad Thanksgiving preschool play. Both are deeply pathetic to watch. Dusty is just having a good old-fashioned bad day, and Sarah K has fun, works hard and shows off her drawing skills. Ho hum.

2011-12-08-NUP_144286_0673resize.jpg 2011-12-08-NUP_144286_1675resize.jpg

During the crits, our discussion about the signature did not make it to TV. We spoke about the value of a signature: its aura, authenticity and as memorabilia. After Obama's presidential address, an autographed copy of his speech sold on eBay for $500. His new presidential signature had real value. Kymia simply and elegantly used the street to explore these ideas. Will she ever be a famous artist and have a signature of value? Will any of those passers-by become president? In the gallery, her work was a nice quiet counterpart to Lola's life-size portrait. Yet, in the end, Lola whispered on the street and captured our imagination.