Having watched a screener for Banksy's movie, Exit Through the Gift Shop, this evening, I'm happy to say I really enjoyed it. Part of me craves a documentary about Banksy rather than by Banksy; it seems wrong that the one Banksy movie isn't really that.
But that said, it's a great film which does shed some light on Banksy and the 'real' street art scene while focusing on the concocted scene of Mr. Brainwash. It also raises some interesting questions about pop art and the frenzy surrounding any hint of Banksy association.
"I continue to find the rise of Mr. Brainwash absolutely fascinating," Banksy quips. "His art sells for roughly double what mine does these days. Gore Vidal once wrote that 'Every time a friend of mine succeeds, a little bit of me dies.' I'd amend that to 'Every time one of my friends borrows my ideas, mounts a huge art show and becomes a millionaire celebrity,' a little bit of me wants him dead."
Whatever the case, there's something undeniably L.A. about the success of Mr. Brainwash.
"Thierry is the living embodiment of the American dream," Banksy says. "America's capacity to be infuriating is matched only by its capacity to reinvent itself into something brilliant."
Shepard Fairey's also quoted, with a good perspective on people's reaction to MBW:
"He couldn't get away with what he does if the public didn't buy into it, and that says a lot about popular culture, new technology and perhaps the art world in general, which is what Banksy's getting at.
"Yet it was an injustice that the only street-art cover story the Weekly ever chose to do was the one on his show. Pop art was never a bad word to me until I saw Thierry's show in L.A. It was then I found the line between what looks cool but has no meaning and a piece that maybe continues a deeper conversation. It's helped me not to make those mistakes in my own work, the cheap shots, ever again. That being said, Thierry's my friend. He's a nice person and a hard worker. Don't be annoyed by him. Make him irrelevant, make something better."