Okay, someone needs to tell me flat out: is “Exit Through The Gift Shop” a hoax or not?
I hadn’t heard about this angle going in to the movie. When I left the theater, I thought I had just seen a very smart meditation on what is – or isn’t – art, and who is – or isn’t – an artist, and who does – and doesn’t – get to decide.
I was mulling over what the real differences were between Banksy, Shepard Fairey and Mr. Brain Wash, and found that I very much agreed with the street artist in the movie who says, “The joke’s on us. Or maybe the joke’s on them. Or maybe there’s no joke at all.”
Then a good friend of mind, an Angeleno who knows of such things, told me the whole movie was a Banksy prank. And that, best of all – joke within a joke within a joke – the sheeple who bought the Mr. Brain Wash pieces at the “Life Is Beautiful” show actually ended up buying original Banksys at far below market value!
In that case the joke’s on the collectors and gallery owners and celebrity buyers who jacked up the value of his work, assuming the market for Banksys-masquerading-as-Brainwashes doesn’t collapse tomorrow. Which I suppose it could. Hell, it’d be no more or less capricious than anything else which happens in the art market.
And will someone please tell me who Thierry Guetta really is? Is he a camera wielding French fanboy who was used as a vehicle to pull off the prank? Is he Banksy with lambchops? Is he an actor?
And then of course, I am haunted by the counterthought that Banksy wants us to think the whole thing is a prank, but that it actually is a straightforward documentary, that Thierry is who he says he is. So I guess that would make it a genuine doc masquerading as a mockumentary masquerading as a…er….???
I’m tired and confused. I need to lie down.
This is like the members of Spinal Tap, Andy Kaufmann and Tony Clifton hanging out in an Escher painting.
And yet, there was a “real” Spinal Tap record, and it was half way listenable (more than half way: “Rock ‘N’ Roll Creation” is a genuine anthem, and who doesn’t love “Big Bottom?”) But because the band wasn’t real, does that make the record any less real? And what does “real” even mean?
There is a CD with songs on it.
There is a painting hanging on the wall.
What does it matter if they began life as a prank? 500 years from now, will the artist’s and/or prankster’s initial intention even matter? The work will stand or fall alone.
If I had to guess, in the end, no matter what the truth, Banksy wins. Deservedly so.
Still, I’d like to know: hoax or not?
And if you liked “Gift Shop,” then netflix “My Kid Could Paint That,” another great meditation on Art, about a four year old girl whose work ends up being sold for six figs in posh galleries.