Posted by: martinworster | April 28, 2010


Just saw the excellent ‘Exit Through The Giftshop’ – Banksy’s new documentary. It’s a very original film although to say it is about Banksy would be misleading. The main focus of the film is on LA based artist Mr Brainwash who started the film as the documentary maker. By the end of it the roles had reversed and Banksy became the film maker and Brainwash the artist. So postmodern…

It offers an interesting insight into the world of Banksy. There are interviews with him – of course with his face blacked out and voice disguised. We get to see him at work. We see his studio and large work space. We follow him into Disneyland as he does some guerilla art work by leaving an orange hooded Guantanamo dummy in the theme park. 

Mr Brainwash is the cousin of French graffiti artist Invader and started to film him spraying pieces. Through this introduction into the world of street artists he filmed more graff artists at work including LA based Shepard Fairey. He then wanted to start filming Banksy – but didn’t have the right connections. Then, luckily for Brainwash, Banksy came to LA to do his Barley Legal show (to which I went) and needed someone local to help him out. That man was Mr Brainwash.

Obviously by watching all these artists at work whilst filming them, Mr Brainwash thought he could do the same thing and started to market himself as an artist. He set up a big show in LA and over night became a celebrated – but not critically acclaimed – artist. He also earned loads of dough in the process.

The film offers an interesting insight into the world of an artist – and how talent is not naturally a pre-requisite for success. In the case of Brainwash, hype, media presentation, connections and a larger than life personality secured overnight success. It was also interesting for me living near Los Angeles as a lot of the events in the film happened here. It reveals the fickle nature of this town and how fame and money can be earnt – and lost – very quickly. Reputations are not really necessarily based on talent or a body of work – merely hype.  It will be interesting to see how long Brainwash’s career will last. 

Good luck to Brainwash. He seized an opportunity and went for it. Lucky for him he lived in LA who’s population is obviously gullible enough to buy it.

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