I’LL DO GRAFFITI, IF YOU SING TO ME IN FRENCH
Words by Tennille Paterson
I met a guy in London who said he knew Banksy. He told me Banksy is one of the nicest guys you’d ever meet but that he is as ugly as sin. I never asked what he looked like… The anonymous street artist does appear in blurred self portraits and as a young boy in his ‘WHAT’ piece. Or so I was told in London.
He told me stories about how compassionate and generous Banksy is. Apparently he had even crashed on his couch a few times and that Banksy was no fan of his pet cats. I told him that I wasn’t fond of cats either – but that’s beside the point.
Mister Brainwash (MBW) was nobody in the art world. A pop up overnight success that did exactly as his name would suggest. Thierry Guetta was a lunatic Frenchmen with an obsession and a video camera for a right hand. Mister Brainwash is Thierry Guetta’s alter ego.
He wanted to meet Banksy. And as we soon find out, Thierry does what he wants. Thierry does what he wants all of the time, regardless of any consequence. He even leaves his family behind on numerous occasions to cavort about on whirlwind adventures filming every move the cool kids of street art make.
Thierry’s intentions are to make a street art documentary starring Space Invader, Shepard Fairey and Banksy. Thierry never denies the task but never begins it.
Banksy allowed Thierry to film him and his work. Thierry managed to prove himself to the ever anonymous street artist by protecting his image and gaining his respect. Then again, as Thierry explains during the film he rarely asks his subjects if he can record, he just sticks his camera in their face.
After years of filming and endless footage, Thierry debuts Life Remote Control. I have to admit watching the trailer made me nervous. Yes, I flick through channels on television like there is no tomorrow. No, I can’t sit through a 13 second advertisement. 90 minutes of loud noises and fit inducing images thrown at my face? We’ll see.
“Critics complain of a generation, raised on commercials, cable TV, and music videos, has lost its
attention span. This movie sets out to prove that our visual impatience is not a weakness; it is our greatest strength”. Or so Mr Brainwash thinks.
With a preview of Life Remote Control, Banksy decides that he’d prefer a shot at knocking together a film himself. Banksy doesn’t know how to make a film, but then neither did Thierry. And as Banksy states – that didn’t stop him. Although, I don’t think a moving truck would stop Thierry. And Mr Brainwash could care less about what he can and can’t do. If his mind outgrows his capacity – he’d just hire someone to complete the task.
Thierry’s filmmaker aptitude may be questionable; however this is possibly the least of his concern. His film left Banksy wondering whether he was pure genius or simply someone struggling with mental problems.
Genius or not Mr Brainwash can throw an art show. MBW sold over $1 million of art work in his first showing. Punters lined up outside for hours while Thierry scooted about (really, he was on a scooter…with a broken foot) inside giving orders and impromptu press interviews.
When filmed in the line and around the venue most MBW fans admitted they weren’t even sure what they were there for. The conspiracy hype had brought a crowd ready to snap up the next big thing in street art world. That is, even if they had no idea what that was exactly.
For Mr Brainwash, Life Is Beautiful. I wonder how much deeper it goes than that sentence. MBW knows exactly what he is doing, or does he? His French accent and idiosyncrasies’ make it very hard to decide.
Oh, and just so you know…Banksy does not produce greeting cards or print photo-canvases or paint commissions or sell freshly baked bagels. But he welcomes you to make your own, unless you’re Mr Brainwash or Thierry Guetta.
Exit through the gift shop – A Banksy Film