Seeking a professional opinion on the new Bravo reality series Gallery Girls, we asked the London-based art dealer, curator and writer Kenny Schachter to weigh in on the show’s first two episodes. Stay tuned for further musings on the program from Mr. Schachter, whose writing has appeared in books on architect Zaha Hadid, and artists Vito Acconci and Paul Thek, and who is a contributor to the British edition of GQ and Swiss money manager Marc Faber’s Gloom Boom & Doom Report.
I’ve been in art for nearly 25 years without witnessing a single pair of exposed art world knickers. Is there something wrong with me?
Let’s back up for a moment. I have never watched a single episode of a reality show. I don’t say that from a culturally superior, I-don’t-even-own-a-TV position—I’m not above a decent sitcom, and have indulged in everything from All in the Family to Family Guy, and have taken in bucket loads of news, from CNN, Bloomberg, CNBC and the rest. I just tend to stay away from anything involving dancing, skating or any other manner of amateur talent contest, or a bunch of Muppets moving into a house together to see what marvelous and unexpected things (read: binge drinking, bonking) unfold. As for celebrities, I prefer mine to have actually accomplished a thing or two.
Gallery Girls is a reality show concerning seven young women who are allegedly attempting to break into some dubious incarnation of the art world, by working for galleries, consultants and, in one case, as an artist. I don’t think a single one of them is very plausible or suited to the task, aside from possessing some very basic criteria such as looking decent, and hailing from wealthy families. Having just watched the season’s first two episodes, I am barely able to recall any of their names.
Here are a few observations about Gallery Girls: the word “like” is used a lot; there is a token non-rich girl; there is a bubble bath scene, and exposed breasts within the first three minutes of the first episode; there are gratuitous panty shots and gratuitous bra shots. There is on-camera talking behind backs. There are tears, in great quantity.
By way of an art gallery context, you have a radical incarnation of a store combining jewelry, art and dresses. Wow! I was positively blown away by the sheer avant-garde-ness of this enterprise. In addition, there was a low-level art consultant buying the occasional inexpensive print for her supposedly high-caliber clients, and a smarmy Asian art dealer, Eli Klein, an imbecilic pimp type who plays into the hands of all of those who would call art dealers sleazebags. How he calculated the upside in his participation in this broadcast defies reason.
Working chez Klein is the daughter of the renowned Miami collector Martin Margulies, whose father bizarrely consented to appear in the show, only to appear as awkward, callous and out of his depth as the rest of the cast. Granted, I have the attention span of a flea, but a few minutes into this program I wished I were doing just about anything else, including having my teeth drilled with no anesthetic and getting shot in the face by a .38, at close range.
A taste of the dialogue: “The art world is, like, made up of a mixed group of people: you have, like, the artsy people; older cougar woman trying to be young and they’re, like, not; and the young trendy girls trying to fit in and be relevant, that’s how the art world is.” Thank you for the explication—we could all stand to take note. This is lowest-common-denominator television at its cattiest, bitchiest best. I’ve changed diapers on more articulate kids.
Before watching it, I’d been under the impression that this was a program about art. As it turns out, it might be a program about “slap shots.” The girls do this in one scene; it involves taking a shot of booze and then slapping someone in the face. Please slap me in the face; it would be more refreshing than having to watch another second of this nonsense. Or, as the girls would put it, whatever.
To attempt to locate a single legitimate art piece on the show is to engage in a Where’s Waldo exercise in which, as it turns out, Waldo has packed it in and skipped town, leaving in his wake nothing but a trail of frustrated viewers.
But let’s get back to that dialogue, with a grab bag of quotes: “Who wouldn’t want to sleep with me?”; “Her pussy is not, like, all fat and crazy looking like Britney Spears trailer park fat.”; “In Brooklyn everyone has an STD, everyone is broke, and everyone smells and doesn’t shower and I want someone with a real career.” Like, I think I need a Xanax.
As for all the tears, can you remember the last time you cried due to some art-related bullshit? As the kids say: WTF? Bravo is supposedly the “cultural” channel but compared to this, I’d settle for the Cartoon Network. Can someone, like, lose his or her creative license? Sadly I guess not, but I wish it were, like, totally possible. Gossip girls, gallery girls, they are all fungible, but, like, life is short then you, like, die. God, like, please don’t make me live through another episode.