"MTV and Hirshhorn's explosive new series will change the way you think about art and competitions - find out why!"

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MTV and the Hirshhorn Museum have teamed up for a new competition reality TV show called The Exhibit. The six-episode series will be focused on seven American artists competing for a chance to present their work at the museum and a $100,000 cash prize. In the first episode, the contestants spent a night at the museum, gathering inspiration from its exhibitions. The artists' first assignment was exploring gender, with the 10-hour task judged on originality, quality, and concept of work. Ultimately, self-taught painter Jennifer Warren was the winner, and tensions amongst the contestants are already beginning to rise.

MTV and the Hirshhorn’s Artist Competition TV Series Kicks Off with a Night at the Museum

Source: MTV

The Exhibit, a new six-episode docuseries created by the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden and MTV officially kicking off tonight, will see seven American artists compete for a presentation at the institution and a $100,000 cash prize. But on tonight’s episode, before they even made any art, the contestants got to spend a night at the Hirshhorn, à la E.L. Konigsburg’s 1967 YA novel From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, to gather inspiration for their upcoming challenge.

After operating hours, the group is shown wandering around the Hirshhorn’s galleries and immersed themselves in installations such as Mark Bradford’s Pickett’s Charge (2017), Laurie Anderson’s The Weather (2021), and Barbara Kruger’s Belief + Doubt (2012). You wouldn’t be blamed for thinking this was all a commercial for the Hirshhorn’s collection.

This remark is followed by another from Misha Kahn, who sets the scene for what’s to come. “Baseera [Khan] and Jillian [Mayer] are both troublemakers,” Kahn says, referring to two of the other contestants. “We’re the ones that do three-dimensional stuff. Immediately you sense a similar thing. And then the painters, who all seem so lovely, are maybe more proper reserved humans.”

The next day, the artists receive their first assignment: an exploration of gender. With ten hours to complete the task, they are judged on originality, quality of execution, and concept of work. Two notable examples from the Hirshhorn’s collection—Kent Monkman’s Honour Dance (2020) and Loie Hollowell’s Boob Wheel (2019)—serve as inspiration.

As guest judges are announced intermittently throughout the show, Artnet News columnist Kenny Schachter was then introduced to the artists.

Art doesn’t always come together as expected, however, and Kahn’s work appears to fall apart before it even begins. As he spins the resin coating to form his banana sculpture, it collapses. Seeking to salvage the piece, Kahn made more resin and recoated the work. Not long after all this happens, artist Adam Pendleton is brought out as another guest judge.

Hirshhorn director Melissa Chiu, Schachter, and Pendleton offer a critique of each work—or, to use art-school terminology, a crit. In their opinion, Hyde ultimately overworked the canvas, while Jamaal Barber’s mashing of body parts in a collage-like drawing was too literal. Khan’s multimedia fabric collage also proved too much for the judges.

Ultimately, for the judges, it comes down to two pieces: Kambhu’s encaustics and—a surprise frontrunner—self-taught painter Jennifer Warren’s self-portrait, which incorporated small details like informative publications and cleaning supplies throughout that reflected her experiences as a young Black girl.

Warren clinched this week’s win, but it’s clear by the end that the rivalries are just beginning. “They don’t like losing to someone who doesn’t have the type of credibility that they do,” says Warren. Looking ahead, we might see a battle royale between the more popular artists, like Khan and Mayer, and the more under-recognized ones, like Kambhu and Warren.