Monday, March 7, 2011
This documentary employed footage taken by Theirry Guetta to show many of the more-known street artists of the current age, followed by other sources of Guetta's degradation of those artists.
good. i think street art is an important art movement that people should know about. it's nice to watch a documentary that doesn't make me want to shun the "art world". this did make me angry, but the bile i usually feel in art documentaries wasn't there. i guess because mr. brainwash just totally manipulated the system and perhaps the art world is getting what they deserve. it just reinforced my belief that if you know how to talk the talk, create the hype, and know which strings to pull, your art could be total shit and they'll lick it up off the floor.
I've been thinking about this movie quite a bit over the past couple of days and in that time more of its genius has become apparent. Drawing heavily from Theirry's footage as well as later interviews and more traditional sources of clips, the film pulls us in with a thrilling look at street artists. We get to see a fair amount of what goes into making that art, including many of the more-audacious exhibits. Immersed in this world, we see how people's art grew and how (for at least some of them) their esteem followed that path.
The technical part of this came off very well. Theirry's footage of the process and results was exactly where it needed to be (and given the circumstances of the filming it was quite impressive), and everything else came together quite nicely.
But that's not the point at all, because at about the 80% mark, the entire exercise turns on its ear. Instead of talking about street art we're talking about Theirry's metamorphosis into Mister Brainwash and his explosion onto the the scene. Not having read anything going in, I was not prepared for this. While the true focus is mentioned early in the movie, its impact couldn't have been until that frame; and the approach worked perfectly. In showing MBW's exploitation of everything--every technique, every relationship, every phone call--he had absorbed and his immediate and intentional selling out the movie conveys with few actual words the frustration which this wreaked on those artists who actually took the time to develop their craft. Much like Thomas Kincade, MBW came out of the gate as a brand. People in the movie call him retarded, but I don't think that's accurate. He might have some form of autism, but he definitely knew what he was doing. And he made a lot of money, so good for him I suppose.
Better for Banksy. Enter through the museum. Exit through the gift shop.