Have you seen that documentary Exit Through the Gift Shop yet? No? Stop it reading right now and go watch that first!
Exit Through the Gift Shop is easily one of my favorite art documentaries. It is fun, fast paced and raises important questions on low-level criminality, artistic integrity and even incompetence. The film was directed by Banksy, and it earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Documentary Feature in 2010. There was even much debate about the film being genuine story or a mockumentary, but that's a discussion for another time.
Exit Through the Gift Shop follows an eccentric shop-keeper turned amateur film-maker as he attempts to capture many of the world's most infamous vandals on camera, only to have a British stencil artist named Banksy turn the camcorder back on its owner with wildly unexpected results.
In a bizarre turn of events, that eccentric shop-keeper has ended up being on of the most praised and controversial pop-artists in recent times: Mr. Brainwash (aka Terry Ghetta) is a French-born, LA-based self-taught street artist turned fine artist à la Jeff Koons, with a machinery of employees transforming his mad ideas into real-life pieces at a very fast pace. Mr. Brainwash has become a polarizing force to be reckoned with in the art world. Some critics have observed that his pieces strongly resemble Banksy's style and speculate that Guetta is an elaborate prank staged by Banksy himself, adding to the fuel of those mockumentary rumors. No one is really telling what is what, but in the words of Banksy himself after realizing Mr. Brainwash was taking the art world by storm...
"MAYBE TERRY WAS A GENIUS ALL ALONG, MAYBE HE WAS A BIT LUCKY, or MAYBE ART IS A BIT OF JOKE."-BANKSY
Mr. Brainwash recently paid New York a visit with a pop-up gallery show entitled Life is Beautiful located at the base of the High Line. The show was crammed-full with his signature mash-up parodies and clever representations of pop culture icons. Luckily, there's no need to debate the origin of his work to enjoy his humorous social commentary and to be completely honest, I love the idea of an artistic hetoronym, so I don't really care of he's Banksy or not.
Life is Beautiful was a fun, chaotic experience, and if I may: very family friendly. So, without further ado, here are some shots from my visit.
So what do you think? Is he an artist on his own right or an elaborate hoax? Let me know in the comments!