Wim Delvoye: Is this shit art?
Belgian artist Wim Delvoye is the world's rudest artist and he's made the most notorious contemporary work of art , 'Cloaca'. This machine reproduces the human digestive system - you put food in one end, and shit comes out the other. Delvoye and other Belgian curators say he is a ground-breaking artist because he does things for real. Ben sets off to test the realism of Delvoye's work in all kinds of ways. His adventures lead him to China where Delvoye has a farm where he tattoos pigs as works of art. Ben decides to join in, and comes back with a work of art on his back which he gets valued at Sotheby's.
Santiago Sierra: Art v. Globalisation
37-year-old Spanish artist Santiago Sierra is the world's most radical living artist. He recreates the exploitation of the globalised economy in the art gallery - by paying junkies the price of a fix to tattoo a line across their backs, hiring scores of black immigrant works to dig a vast land art sculpture in Spain, and filling a museum in Germany with mud. He thinks the world of art is as corrupted as the world of capitalism. Ben follows Sierra across the world from Hanover to Seoul to Dubai, to try to find out how Sierra manages to get away with such confrontational works of art. It's not just his rigorous minimalism, or the popularity of anti-capitalism among curators.. There is another secret ingredient.
Sophie Calle: Conceptual heart
Sophie Calle is the Grand Dame of French contemporary art. Her famous works of art usually involve following a set of rules or a procedure - following a stranger to Venice, obeying a set instructions from writer Paul Auster, and working as a hotel maid. Her art combines romantic autobiography and detached conceptualism. She gives Ben permission to make a film about her on one condition: he has to think up a ritual or set of rules for her to follow, similar to the rules which govern her works of art. Ben visits gallerists and theorists to take advice on what to suggest to her. He submits idea after idea. She rejects one after the other. Finally, in a final encounter with the artist, Ben realises that this ritual of rejection is the set of rules he wanted Sophie to follow.
Takashi Murakami: Toying with art
40-year-old artist Takashi Murakami is Japan's most successful contemporary artist, and also the art world's best art investment - prices for his work have risen twenty times over less than ten years. He makes super-sized toys and cartoons as contemporary art. He runs a huge international art business with studios in Japan and NY. He curates exhibitions and organises art fairs. He has turned his art into a brand with everything from mousemats to chocolate crunch. He is the new Warhol for the Twentieth Century. His art looks superficial and commercialised but Ben goes to Tokyo and discovers that behind it lies a theory about the history of Post-War Japan.