Sounds like it must have been a blast. Still, as much as I'm an advocate for art that doesn't take itself too seriously, it is rather difficult to imagine the Abstract Expressionists participating in such event (of course, they took themselves quite seriously, or so I've heard). And despite the Warholian lesson that to be a good artist one must embrace one's own time, warts and all, there's a stuffy little voice in the back of my head responding to "Iron Artist" with a mumbled mantra: "slippery slope...it's a slippery slope...what if it pushes Art even further toward entertainment?" Fortunately, there's a more boisterous voice in my head telling that stuffy little voice to "zip it, Killjoy...and stay out my way, I want to get a good seat at the next one." Anyone know if another is planned?
In the first of two 45-minute "duels," two sculptors, Jude Tallichet and Olav Westphalen, tackled the theme of "love and its discontents" using a medium they had agreed on in advance: giant blocks of foam.
Ms. Tallichet, 52, and her crew — dressed as ninjas, their faces covered except for the eyes — cut the foam into an olive-painted dome surrounded by smaller orbs jutting outward on wooden sticks. One assistant walked back and forth with handwritten signs referring to the solar system and its mythological references, while Ms. Tallichet re-enacted several theories about the death of the sculptor Ana Mendieta. [...]
Mr. Westphalen, 42, and his assistants, who wore silver boxing gowns, worked more slowly and meticulously. With a chainsaw they trimmed their block of foam into a snowman, complete with carrot-orange nose and coal-black eyes, and suspended it upside down from a flimsy wooden frame.
"The art world is at the moment infatuated with entertainment," Mr. Westphalen, the winner, said afterward. "The idea of taking that on aggressively and humorously
— to try to measure up to real entertainment, where the art world always comes out short of course, because we don't have the means and the talent and the time to do it right — that's a provocative approach."
In the second match two pairs of artistic collaborators addressed the theme of "man's inhumanity to man," from the Robert Burns poem.
Adam Ames and Andrew Bordwin, who collaborate under the name Type A, used metal studs, power drills and wallboard. The other pair, Julian LaVerdière and Vincent Mazeau, who design sets for film and fashion productions through their company, Big Room, worked with a blackboard, foam, giant black balloons and cylinders of compressed hydrogen.
Mr. Ames, 37, and Mr. Bordwin, 41, were sealed inside a makeshift room by their assistants, and in the final minute of the match punched and kicked their way out by destroying a wall of Sheetrock. Mr. LaVerdière, 35, and Mr. Mazeau, 40, chose a quieter surprise: After filling balloons with hydrogen, they attached them to a brown-painted foam brick with the inscription "Every Man for Himself" and set them aloft. In a close verdict, the judges proclaimed the Type A team the victor.