Jokes about “actuality tv” being a contradiction in phrases go as far again in pop-culture historical past because the format itself. However the truth stays that, intentionally or in any other case, its applications do mirror sure traits of the societies that produce them. Earlier than turning into one of the vital globally profitable franchises of this century’s reality-TV growth, the once-controversial strangers-in-a-house present Huge Brother premiered within the Netherlands. It will likely be left as an train to the reader what that claims concerning the Dutch, who’ve been tuning in to a really completely different form of actuality programming up to now month: De Nieuwe Vermeer, or The New Vermeer.
Aired along with the Rijksmuseum’s largest Vermeer exhibition ever staged, the present invitations “two skilled painters and dozens of newbie artists to compete to reinvent the misplaced works of the Seventeenth-century grasp,” writes the New York Occasions‘ Nina Siegal.
“The outcomes are judged by Vermeer specialists from the Rijksmuseum, the Dutch nationwide museum in Amsterdam, and from the Mauritshuis, a group of outdated masters in The Hague.” The professionals face such duties as faithfully reconstructing Vermeer’s misplaced works, whether or not they vanished centuries in the past or in the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum theft of 1990. The amateurs work in their very own media, together with “stained glass, printmaking and even Lego.”
All this has made The New Vermeer “an immediate sensation within the Netherlands, with 1.3 million viewers (in a rustic of 17 million) tuning in for the primary episode.” Like all profitable actuality TV present lately, it has additionally impressed a wealth of supplementary content material, together with a podcast and an on-line gallery displaying all of the paintings created by the contestants. “You’ll be able to’t at the moment watch the collection within the U.S., writes Artnet’s Sarah Cascone, “however the community is streaming a weekly YouTube ‘Masterclass‘” providing “step-by-step directions on the way to create your individual Vermeer canvas.” In the intervening time, these movies can be found solely in Dutch, presumably on the belief that The New Vermeer received’t journey nicely outdoors the Netherlands. But when, by some slim probability, it changed into a Huge Brother-scale phenomenon, think about the golden age of actuality TV that may lie forward.
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Based mostly in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and tradition. His tasks embody the Substack publication Books on Cities, the e-book The Stateless Metropolis: a Stroll via Twenty first-Century Los Angeles and the video collection The Metropolis in Cinema. Observe him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Fb.