Exit Through the Gift Shop: Perception’s Price Tag

Exit Through the Gift ShopSo here’s my loophole pitch and why I think Fairey and Banksy worked together to elevate MBW to kill their collective body of work before critics and buyers did it with absentee artists.

After Barely Legal shows in LA, Banksy watches his work and the work of his colleagues explode in popularity and price. He tells the camera that he told Guetta, “It’s not about the hype, it’s not about the money – now’s the time, get your film out.”

Guetta cuts his nightmare film Life Remote Control (which is hard to believe was ever longer than the two-minute clip seen in ETTGS) and Banksy knows the footage is important, but also that Guetta’s rendition is a disaster, so he tells him to go back to LA and “make some art…buy some bottles of wine and have a show.”

Guetta returns to LA, leaving his footage with Banksy who will attempt a new cut – and here’s where the film’s own editing betrays the gag: Guetta is still rolling tape as he begins to develop Life is Beautiful, and this tape makes it into Exit Through the Gift Shop.

Anonymous cameramen film Guetta clumsily hanging posters; spilling paste in his truck; and instructing a Warholesque-factory team that can barely contain its shit-talking, to clarify that Guetta is no artist.

Yet Guetta relentlessly collects this new footage – which should be independent of Banksy’s documentary, or require an explanation of its acquisition and inclusion in Exit Through the Gift Shop – while a clever, unnamed publicist gets him on the cover of LA Weekly; rents billboards in the right spaces; and scores a ridiculously pricey facility for the Life is Beautiful installation.

Guetta then breaks his foot, which oddly there’s no rolling footage for, in a scene where he’s actually doing some work; and in fact, the injury shows that Guetta’s not only unaccustomed to the physical creation of street art, but that street art is only rewarding for him after it has created itself. I smell a big, stenciled rat.

Fairey – and Banksy, especially – give Guetta geniusly crafted quotes leveraged in high-traffic, expensive locations. Life is Beautiful and MBW’s career are birthed as a smashingly valuable success with no gestation. The pointed, supposedly pro-Guetta fan interviews at Life is Beautiful capture the victims and suckers of the LA art scene sharing insights like:

“[MBW] is holdin’ LA right now, he’s up on every corner.”

“[We found out about this event through] LA Weekly.”

“I’m not quite sure what I’m in for, but I’m excited about it.”

Remember: “It’s not about the hype, it’s not about the money.”

MBW’s show is a manufactured beast bankrolled by two of the only modern pranksters artistically-credible and wealthy enough to pull it off: Fairey and Banksy, who intentionally launch and document MBW’s career to complete the ETTGS vision: that every little, nifty idea inevitably goes to die in dollars, and the mystique of the experience – not the experience itself – determines the price tag before expiration.

It’s simply more satisfying to drive the bulldozer when given the opportunity.

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One Comment

  1. Andy Blood
    Posted February 16, 2011 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

    He just struck L.A. again. Two weekes until the oscars. Expect more in the coming days….

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