Friday, February 3, 2017


I've been obsessed with the entity known as Banksy since the day I first laid eyes on the 2010 documentary "Exit Through the Gift Shop." I say entity because it's quite possible that Banksy could be male, female, or a collective. However, because Banksy is portrayed as a male throughout this documentary, I will refer to "him" as "he." And, just so you know, this is a spoiler alert, so rid yourself of this review if you want to watch it for yourself.

The film starts with Banksy and his merry band of street artists strolling the city looking to create art on buildings, billboards, etc., despite the fact that it is against the law - you know, those stuffy, authoritative figures who just don't understand the edgy, cool crowd. Other street artists, including Shepard Fairey who created the now famous Obama campaign poster with the word "hope" at the bottom, speak about street art culture throughout the documentary. Either way, the bait has been set and this is the point in the film where Banksy, the pied piper of cool, introduces us to a character who will eventually label himself as "Mr. Brainwash."

Mr. Brainwash is the exact opposite of Banksy and his graffiti cohorts. He is portrayed as a clumsy, uncool wannabe street artist who steals everyone's ideas to create art of his own. Banksy and company rip on this poor guy from here on out. Banksy, feeling bad for the guy, sets up a gallery for Mr. Brainwash to display his work while endorsing it the whole way. As word gets out and the day of the show begins, lines wrap around the gallery for blocks. The fix is in as Mr. Brainwash allows the adulation to go to his head and buys into his own hype. What a no talent idiot, right? Not exactly.

Whether you like art or not, Banksy has not only pointed out how the art world works, but society as a whole. The early bird or, in this case, the "cool" person gets the worm. Create art as an "uncool" individual and most of society will say your work sucks, unless someone "cool" says otherwise. The point is, allowing someone to tell you what is and what is not right or wrong is the definition of a tool. Dismissing someone who has a better grip on a certain subject because they don't fit the profile and you are still a tool. And this is the gift Banksy has left us, not physical art, per say, but performance art in which he exposes the inner tool in all of us.

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