New EIV program parodies avant-garde diehards

by Mark Gartsbeyn / Beacon Staff • February 3, 2016

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Christian Mudrick and Lucy Deller, creators of Art., pose for a promotional shoot involving honey and tea bags.
Christian Mudrick and Lucy Deller, creators of Art., pose for a promotional shoot involving honey and tea bags.

The video opens with a stoic duo holding coffees outside the Arlington Street Church. They don black coats and Morpheus sunglasses. A grating recorder performance of “This Land Is Your Land” lingers over the scene.  

A passerby drops coins into their cups—with a shrug, they take a sip. Suddenly, images of Ronald Reagan, refuse, and rhinoplasty litter the screen. With revulsion, the two spit out their drink, quarters and all. Capitalism elicits pure disgust. 

Fade to white. Big black letters. “ART.” 

The promo is for a new show called Art., a one-off special production coming to Emerson Independent Video this semester. It consists of a long series of short skits, each a satirical take on experimental media. Lots of nudity, lots of violence, and lots of surprises. 

The two characters from the teaser, named Abcde and Cherish, will host the program. They’re portrayed by Lucy Deller and Christian Mudrick, the junior visual and media arts majors who also created the show. Mudrick is the executive producer while Deller is the head writer. According to them, Art. is one big joke. 

“We’re satirizing the way that people perceive art, people’s ‘hoity-toity’ and pretentious attitude[s] toward art,” Mudrick said.

“Self-righteous, maybe?” Deller said.

“Like a self-righteous analysis,” Mudrick said. “Like, in Jane Eyre, [Charlotte] Brontë describes the curtains as blue. In an English class, you’re like, ‘That symbolizes her depression.’ But maybe Brontë just wanted her to have blue curtains.”

Mudrick said one of his favorite segments is called “Child Murder.”

“We have a guest child, who’s a fan of the show, write a poem to us,” Mudrick said. “It’s like the uncensored, uncut version of her reading. But in the middle of the reading, she gets murdered. And you see all of it.” 

“Our characters signify that part as the most poetic,” Deller said.

Another segment is named “Human Flesh Pile.”

“There’s going to be naked people,” Mudrick said. “When the final package is delivered, they will be censored. ‘Free the nipple,’ though, we’re showing boobs — but I’m not going to be exposing people’s genitalia. It gets people more participatory. But butts and nipples are going to be exposed.” 

According to Mudrick, Art. will not air on the Emerson Channel because of its nudity. However, it will be posted online. Mudrick said he wants to release the show by April 1. 

The program will also feature “guest movers,” who will perform contact improvisation, a type of freeform, postmodern dance. 

“In the middle of the show, we have a break for an awkwardly long amount of time, where we’re contact improv-ing to different…”

“Things,” Mudrick said. He didn’t reveal the intended soundscape.

“It’ll be a smorgasbord of ear-treats,” Deller said. 

Mudrick said that the “ethereal, immortal entities” who host the show came to him in a dream. In his subconscious, the characters were played by Saturday Night Live stars Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph. He said that St. Vincent’s “Birth in Reverse” music video influenced the image of the nebulous, gender-less beings. 

“We will be donning some sweet amorphous gowns for the show,” Mudrick said. “We’re going to be doing some crazy hair and makeup to sell the whole package.” 

As the hosts, Abcde and Cherish will introduce and comment on each of the segments. There will be 16 pre-recorded sketches and several skits recorded in studio, including the guest movers, a yoga break, and a paint demo.

“It’s a very strange concept for a show,” Mudrick said. “And it’s not like ‘LOL’ funny, where it’s joke after joke after joke, like [Emerson Channel comedy news program] Breaking News is. It’s a much more subtle humor; it’s a very niche taste.”

“If anything, it’ll make you uncomfortable,” Deller said. 

Mudrick said they considered making Art. into a series but decided to make it a one-time affair.

“We boiled it down to this one big masterpiece of miracle art,” Mudrick said.

“It’s like the second coming of Christ, he’s not going to come a third or fourth time,” Deller said. “It’s one resurrection.” 

“It’s a one and done kind of thing,” Mudrick said.

“Easter only comes once a year,” Deller said.

Mudrick and Deller said that they’ve been involved at Emerson Channel since their freshman year, when they both worked on Good Morning Emerson. Last semester, Mudrick co-hosted and produced Last Train to Funkytown, a satirical late night talk show. Unlike that project, Art. won’t shoot in front of a live audience. 

“Wouldn’t be much of a laugh track,” Deller said.

Ben Degler, a freshman visual and media arts major, worked on Funkytown as a segment editor. Now, he’s one of Art.’s segment producers and will help make six clips, including Human Flesh Pile. He’ll star in one of the mini-films as a male stripper, giving his co-producer Mike Gilchrist a lap dance.

“It’s just a show that’s trying to create some absurdist art,” Degler said in his dorm’s living room. “In creating this absurd art that’s ‘anti-art,’ it’s actually creating its own art.”

“Emerson!” an eavesdropping suitemate shouted.