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Hirshhorn to Launch New Reality TV Series

Hirshhorn Director Melissa Chiu welcomes artists Clare Kambhu, Jamaal Barber, Jennifer Warren, Baseera Khan, Misha Kahn and Frank Buffalo Hyde to the Museum’s collection storage during the filming of The Exhibit: Finding the Next Great Artist. Not visible is artist Jillian Mayer. Courtesy of Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. Photo by Shannon Finney.

Washington, DC’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden will launch a six-episode reality television series on March 7. Titled The Exhibit: Finding the Next Great Artist, the show will air concurrently on MTV (“right after Ru-Paul’s Drag Race!” the press release announces) and on the Smithsonian Channel. Seven emerging American artists will compete for a $100,000 cash award and the opportunity to present their work at the Hirshhorn: They will be judged by a panel led by the museum’s director, Melissa Chiu.

The show, which the museum created in partnership with MTV Studios, Paramount, and the Smithsonian Channel, reflects the Hirshhorn’s effort to make art accessible to a broader audience. It is expected to reach a potential 40 million viewers.

Competing for eyes and prize are Jamaal Barber, Frank Buffalo Hyde, Misha Kahn, Clare Kambhu, Baseera Khan, Jillian Mayer, and Jennifer Warren. Each will be asked on a weekly basis to create a work responding to a different piece in the Hirshhorn’s collection and, to comment on “a pressing issue of our time.” The show will feature guest judges plucked from the art world, among them artist Adam Pendleton, whose language-based work investigates underrepresented historical narratives through the deployment of appropriated imagery in new contexts; and sculpture and installation artist Abigail DeVille, whose practice explores racial violence and gentrification. Other judges include artist, provocateur, and critic Kenny Schachter (“Even when I’m smack dab in the middle of the art world I’m somehow outside of it,” he told Artnews last spring); sociologist Sarah Thornton, the author of 2008’s Seven Days in the Art World; arts educator Sammy Hoi, president of the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore; digital strategist JiaJia Fei, late of New York’s Jewish Museum and Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum; and collector Keith Rivers, a former linebacker for the New York Giants. The show will be hosted by MTV’s Dometi Pongo, who previously hosted True Life: Crime for the network.

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