Banksy’s Exit Through the Gift Shop – a review

You have to give the man credit, he’s stretched himself again and delivered a film that’s funny, well paced and will appeal to a wider audience than me and the rest of the London questionable haircut crew. The Cordy House Obey Giant was in there twice at the start… but we painted over it the other day to make way for new work.

In terms of its construction as a film it’s better than of 90% of the documentaries released by ‘serious’ film makers, so well done Banksy, you’ve cut a great and even important film from an insane pile of tapes built up by the film’s lead character: Thierry ‘Mr Brainwash’ Guetta.

Guetta is the cousin of Invader and a tirelessly chirpy screwball Frenchman with a video camera, nothing more. At this point in time he’s not a film maker and he’s not an artist. Like I said, he’s a likeable screwball Frenchman with a video camera – and a big fat PR machine. But hey, maybe that’s what art is now. The film certainly doesn’t deny it, but it does show the ridiculousness of it all. It’s up to you to draw your own conclusions.

Thanks to his cousin Guetta finds himself immersed in the worlds of artists like Shephard Fairey and Banksy at the peak of their game – and to validate his presence alongside them he shoots everything, all the time. But when asked to make a film he manages ‘Life Remote Control’ which, as Banksy says, is shit.

So then Banksy takes the reigns as tubby little Thierry starts to launch his very own Street Art career. At this point Banksy and Shephard Fairey have to hold up their hands and claim prominent roles in the creation of Mr Brainwash (as Shephard does in the film). Mr Brainwash could never have existed without using their promotion and contacts – which he used to launch his show ‘Life is Beautiful’ in LA in 2008. The only thing Brainwash brings creatively is energy, there’s zero new thought or style in his work, but he has buckets of projected self-believe which works wonders in LA. He, and an army of helpers, make hundreds of canvases of celebrities in a pop street art manner. All are devoid of originality. Thierry’s influential supporters then mug the shallow LA art scene with this bullshit work – and it works! Sick genius, if a bit depressing.

So what we end up with is the opportunity to watch, and I hope understand, the brutal reality of how feeble ‘artists’ can become successful purely as a result of effective PR. It really is incredible what the press are prepared to publish and what the people are prepared to believe.

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