OPINION | Mr. Brainwash: Ce n’est pas un Banksy

There’s a sucker born every minute.
~ P.T. Barnum

Mr. Brainwash always has paint on his hand.

Banksy’s latest assault is Exit Through the Gift Shop, a mockumentary or fauxdoc, perhaps, that alleges to be about one Mr. Brainwash, aka Thierry Guetta, madman filmmaker and god-awful artist.

Guetta, is, apparently a nutter who attached himself to the famous street artist, following him (and other notable street artists) around for ten years or so and obtaining enough undesirable footage to force Banksy pay some attention. When he did, the story goes, he turned the camera on Guetta himself  and told him to go make his own art.

Which, apparently, Guetta did, producing, with the aid of some twenty assistants, a huge and rambling show in L.A. that was dubbed “Life is Beautiful”.

In Banksy’s own words, the film Exit,  is “basically the story of how one man set out to film the un-filmable. And failed.” But it is also a very well strategized marketing tool for some the latest Banksy mega-work: a story with so many layers of fact and fantasy that it can’t be easily teased out.

Soon after the movie’s “secret” premier at the Sundance Flim Festival the never-heard-of-until-now outsider street artist had another show, ICONS, that filled two floors of a warehouse in New York’s meatpacking district with LOL-worthy pieces that were so flat-out derivative and so self-consciously painterly that only the simplest minds could fail to detect a ruse.

By now it’s pretty clear that the documentary, Mr Brainwash, and his “works” are all a complex Banksy “interference” played to tease the gullible art world into either rejecting what may as well be valid art or defending utter crap: or both.

And yet, the New York Times Milena Ryzik still questions, in an April 14th story, whether or not Mr. Brainwash is a joke. Is she joking? The interview is certainly amusing.

Here are some cute facts:

  • Mr. Brainwash’s site has some really funny source coding if you wish to look at it: it’s an impressive maze of deliberately manufactured randomness: worth a visit, as well, just for the atmosphere.
  • iMDb lists the movie as a Documentary/Comedy, with a plot summary written by “Paranoid Pictures” who has written no other plot summaries for the site.
  • Banksy has no Facebook page, but Mr. Brainwash does. Oh well, he has a fan page for the movie Exit Through the Gift Shop. Fan photos lead to suspiciously spare pages.
  • You can see a review of MBW’s first show on Neu Black: Commenter, Juan Rodriguez goes on at length about Mr. Brainwash’s lack of integrity and gets his head handed to him… the thread is long and very entertaining.
  • Shepard Fairey: is adamant and transparently funny in his insistence that MBW is not a farce.

More Links:

Exit Through the Gift Shop Website

See Exit in NYC

An Interview with Banksy

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