November 13, 2013

Exit Through the Gift Shop

I'll be the first to admit that I don't usually "get" modern art. It just doesn't do it for me. I'm more of a landscapes and paintings of horses kind of girl.* However, just because it's not my thing doesn't mean I can't or don't appreciate it. I just think some of it is a bit ridiculous. 

The other evening JD and I settled into bed and watched Exit Through the Gift Shop. I was skeptical at first being as I'm not big into documentaries either. Stupid comedies and musicals? I'll take those, please. 

The movie was good and I very much enjoyed it. If you're unfamiliar with the film, it follows the story of a French "filmmaker" turned "street artist" named Thierry. He starts out wanting to capture everything and anything due to a traumatic event in his childhood, and has an obsession with his video camera. His family must be made up of saints to tolerate that kind of behaviour. And so he begins filming street artists and continues to meet new ones and film them, telling them all that he is a filmmaker and is producing a documentary about street art. Though at one point, Thierry says in an interview that he never really had intentions of creating a documentary. When he is finally prompted by Banksy to compose one, it is reminiscent of a delirious nightmare. At Banksy's suggestion that he perhaps focus on art instead, Thierry renames himself "Mr. Brainwash" and throws a huge art show in an abandoned studio. Most of the art appears to be not even composed by him, he hires a ton of people to make it for him. He also appears to have absolutely no artistic thought or process, he just does what everyone else is doing.

The film definitely makes a statement as to what is art, who is an artist, and what exactly it is that makes art collectors fall for all of it. In a scene leading up to Thierry's exhibit opening, they show him on the phone, selling pieces in advance, before any of his work has been viewed. He lists ridiculously high prices ($18-30,000) and actually sells a few as the press has been forced to catch wind of it thanks to favors from fellow artists such as Banksy. The worst part is that Banksy's quote about him wasn't even nice..... yet everyone somehow missed that.

The film really made me think, but mostly about my own opinions. The whole thing is ridiculous. The public is told that this is something they should care about, and so they do, regardless of the quality and originality of the pieces. "Mr. Brainwash" promises the first two hundred people at his show original, one of a kind pieces so he takes to his printer and splashes them with paint. It's no artistic statement, there is no thought going into it. It is simply a man in a rolling desk chair, trying to save himself from a crowd of angry "fans". 

Some have said that Exit Through the Gift Shop is just another Banksy stunt, that Thierry/Mr. Brainwash isn't real. I'd believe it, that man/character is beyond obnoxious. Who knows. 

Yes, I'm aware that I'm way late to this whole Banksy party, but as previously mentioned, I don't care. 

And since a post without a picture just wouldn't do, here is my favorite Banksy.

* That was a joke, and a reference to 30 Rock... just incase you missed it and now think I'm an asshole. 

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