<editorsnote> Nerds, meet my buddy Helenna. We met on twitter this week, and she’s totes mcgotes one rad chiquita banana with a flare for all things flair! That’s right, Helenna here is what we call an artsy fartsy nerd. She’s a poet, into all things dramatic arts, and she’s going to come on board to write each week about her love of said drama. Well not like actual drama drama, like some cat fight shit – but you get the idea.
I only have one thing left to say … HIT IT HELENNA!!! </editorsnote>
Ok, so what’s the deal with Mr. Brainwash? Why am I obsessed? Why did he sign my shoulder? And why did I get his signature tattooed on my body?
Okay, FAKE OUT! So I didn’t actually get his signature tattooed on my shoulder, that would be ridiculous and slightly too “fan girl” of me…slightly.
But really, what is it about Mr. Brainwash that makes me so incredibly excited?
First I should start off with who the heck he is.
Mr. Brainwash (aka. MBW) is “a pseudonym for Thierry Guetta. According to the Banksy directed film Exit Through the Gift Shop, Guetta, who lives in Los Angeles, California, began as a proprietor of a clothing store and videographer who evolved into a street artist and gallery artist after being influenced by the street artists he documented through video over the years. (Wikipedia)”
If you are unfamiliar with Banksy, Shepard Fairey, and street art in general, I would ABSOLUTELY suggest watching “Exit Through the Gift Shop.” It’s a phenomenal film that for me, raises all sorts of intriguing questions like: What is art? How do we create celebrity? How do we as a society endow things with meaning, and why? I blogged about it after meeting Mr. Brainwash for the first time during Oscar season, and holy nuts do I love that film.
Seriously. My “artsy fartsy nerdy” self is totally turned on by it.
Case in point…this video:
My husband Barry and I had been a fan of Mr. Brainwash’s work long before we even knew who he was. We would often take photos of his street art during our date days in LA. It wasn’t until seeing the film and meeting him that our appreciation for his work expanded into full on admiration.
Now, to be fair, a lot of people think he’s not a “real artist,” and that he just rips off the talented street artists that he’s learned from. Another argument is…
“Since the release of the film Exit Through The Gift Shop, there has been much speculation that the film and story of Mr. Brainwash are a hoax concocted by Banksy and Shepard Fairey themselves…
The Times of London noted that “The blogs buzzed with rumours: that Mr Brainwash is nothing but a front for Banksy; even that he is Banksy.” Fast Company concludes “The whole thing, it’s clear now, was an intricate prank being pulled on all of us by Banksy, who has never publicly revealed his identity, with Fairey as his accomplice. … [His work] looks like Banksy trying not to look like Banksy…” (Wikipedia)
So in other words, it is entirely possible that the anonymous Banksy who has no public face, could in fact be Mr. Brainwash and vice versa…. Confused?
Watch the film. Seriously. It’s awesome.
Now, I’d like to raise a couple of points as to why I think Mr. Brainwash is brilliant.
1) If Guetta truly is the artist aka) Mr. Brainwash, and the story behind how he became a street artist as told in the film is true, I hands down love his artwork. In fact, his posters are hung everywhere in our condo.
Yes, while his artwork absolutely draws on Andy Warhol, Shepard Fairey, Banksy etc… I see his art as a new spin on those that influenced his work. And don’t get me wrong I LOVE Warhol, Banksy, and Fairey. But like many creatives, I think that there aren’t necessarily any new ideas, just different ways of recreating what has already existed.
Yes, I agree that he might lack the “polish” of artists who have meticulously studied and perfected the craft and “earned” their prestige, but I still think he’s brilliant. Shepard Fairey lays it out pretty well in this video, and some peeps also chime in on what they think “art” is, which is definitely one of my favorite topics to debate:
Despite these arguments, I have to admit that the rawness Mr. Brainwash draws from is pretty incredible and endlessly inspiring.
To me his brilliance is that he holds up a mirror to the very idea of “art.” What is art really? Why do we think one thing is art and something else isn’t? He evokes a visceral reaction in people whether it be good or bad, and to me that’s the sign of a true artist. His work brings about discussion, debate, and healthy argument.
(Yes, this is a rubber Darth Vader!)
Now on the flip side…
2) If Mr. Brainwash is completely made up by Banksy…perhaps he IS Banksy, or perhaps not… whatever the case, that would be the ABSOLUTE BEST work of art ever created. It would in fact be “walking street art.” It would have taken the very essence of art, the idea of celebrity, and pop culture, mixed it up and puked it back in our faces. And we are eating it up! What’s more, is that many people believe that even the film Exit Through the Gift Shop is a hoax, and there are some very compelling arguments as to why that’s the case.
If the emergence of Mr. Brainwash as a pop culture phenomenon is completely fabricated and one big “fuck you” to society, well then, I think that is genius. His name after all is Mr. Brainwash….
(pic from the Huffington Post)
Yup, I’m a fan. Whether he’s real or not, a “true artist” or not…( and really who decides that anyways?), I’m a die hard Brainwash Babe.
If you are curious about what the heck I’m talking about in this blog post and you are in the LA area, you should definitely go to his Art Show 2011. It’s four floors of awesomeness. Just make sure that you give yourself time to look around because what at first just seems like an onslaught of colorful randomness, actually gives way to some pretty deep comments on society if you let it.
In fact, “instead of the show solely being his artwork, MBW orchestrated an open call for any artist to come in and make their spontaneous mark on the space. The result is truly a large group show, of which none of the art is for sale. It’s simply to experience and enjoy, temporal and truer to the very nature of street art and graffiti.
‘I feel like it’s important to show street art. This is our world; this is their world. It’s all about sharing; it’s all about love. I don’t want to hurt anybody, I just want to try to build and help more and more people, this is the way that I live and this is my life,’ MBW shared on the inclusion of other artists for the show.”
And side bar: When we went to his show he had been standing all day signing autographs and was incredibly kind and sweet and appreciative of all of the people supporting him. A drunk girl even ruined his fab installation based on the Star Wars Storm Troopers and all he said was “Oh, we’ll have to fix that tomorrow. May the Art be with you.”
No matter what the “real” story behind Mr. Brainwash is, I choose to see a man who is doing what he loves and making the world a little more beautiful because of it.
(pic from Juxtapoz Magazine)
Love him or hate him, I think Mr. Brainwash is here to stay, and I for one am grateful. Yes, life, Mr. Brainwash, is in fact beautiful.