As if he wasn’t already a media favorite, Banksy has been making some pretty colossal waves in the press this past week. First it was the street artist’s airing of The Antics Roadshow, then we were delivered King Robbo’s eye-opening Graffiti Wars (a must-see that has unfortunately been taken off Vimeo), and now all eyes are on Banksy once again as his 2010 documentary, Exit Through the Gift Shop was featured on the August 16th episode of 50 Documentaries to See Before You Die.
50 Documentaries to See Before You Die (50 Docs) is a summer special series, airing on CurrentTV throughout the month of August, and ranks the top 50 documentary films from the past 25 years. Exit Through the Gift Shop (ETTGS) was rated as no.21 this past Tuesday, joining the ranks alongside Biggie and Tupac (no.39) and skateboarding film Dogtown and Z Boys (no.32). On the show’s most recent episode, 50 Docs host Morgan Spurlock ventures through California to meet with controversial French street artist Mr.Brainwash (Thierry Guetta): Banksy’s protege and the focal point of much of ETTGS. In the clip, Spurlock questions Guetta on his relationship with Banksy, as well as the authenticity of both ETTGS and Guetta’s own works.
The 50 Docs feature of ETTGS has kept the art world abuzz about Banksy, and the controversy behind the documentary that features Guetta’s supposed original footage of famed street artists (including Banksy himself) at work. After viewing Guetta’s footage, Bansky managed to convince Guetta to hand over the reins on his graffiti doc project, ETTGS being the result. The film’s 2010 debut sparked debate and initiated skepticism among street art aficionados, leaving many to wonder if Guetta really existed and whether or not the entire film was a hoax. After viewing the documentary, many began to consider Banksy as a sellout, and, after Graffiti Wars, I think I’m starting to as well.
Somehow Banksy’s privileged status as a street artist rather than a graffiti artist (explained in Graffiti Wars by street artist Ben Eine), and his obsession with commercializing his works just don’t sit well with me. Why should anti-graffiti task forces in the UK and around the world be allowed to preserve Banksy works, while ridding the streets of all other illegal art? Why is one more legitimate than the other? I do, however, agree with 50 Docs that ETTGS is a must-see for graffiti nuts. The episode may have just lent the film a bit more legitimacy by speaking with Guetta himself, even if his splattering of red paint is unbearably annoying.
Exit Through the Gift Shop is not the first of Banksy’s sketchy moves though…Team Robbo anyone?
photo via Mr. Brainwash
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