Exit Through the Miffed Shop?Juxtapoz // Wednesday, 21 Apr 2010
Farr states: “Thierry Guetta, a.k.a. Mr. Brainwash, became obsessed with street art after being introduced to it by his cousin, the artist known as Invader. Through Invader, Guetta met Fairey, then more artists, and began following them around with his video camera. In the past, street art was not often documented because capturing it in action requires death-defying climbs and a high risk of police chases (not easily navigable when you're carrying a camera and lights). But Guetta was fearless and even became skilled as Fairey's lookout. His fascination grew, and he filled dozens of boxes with tapes equivalent to contemporary art documentary gold -- world-famous, underground street artists caught on camera. The artists expected him to make a film, but he needed one more subject to complete the roster -- his seemingly unreachable goal to shadow the infamously elusive Banksy became a reality when the artist visited L.A. and needed a hand with some outdoor projects -- Fairey hooked them up, and that's when all hell broke loose.
“Banksy created a monster. After developing a friendship with Guetta and allowing himself to be filmed for several years, Banksy realized Guetta wasn't capable of making a comprehensible film with his priceless footage. So Banksy asked him to turn over the tapes and focus on having an art show of his own instead -- Guetta had gotten the bug and dabbled in some self-portrait street art. He took Banksy's encouragement and ran with it, hiring a crew and setting out to make a huge, Banksy-style exhibition. He chose Mr. Brainwash as his pseudonym because his documentation of street artists caused him to believe that art is all about brainwashing the public. In a sense, he was right. In every sense, brainwashing is exactly what he did. Taking appropriation to an unsettling level, his show was a hot mess of contemporary influences, but his strategic marketing convinced patrons that his very first pieces of art should sell for tens of thousands of dollars. He sold a million dollars "worth" of art at his first show, Life is Beautiful in 2008, which Banksy helped promote with the following quote: "Mr. Brainwash is a force of nature, he's a phenomenon. And I don't mean that in a good way." Exit Through the Gift Shop uncovers the story behind those sharp words.”