Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Exit through the Gift Shop

It matters little whether Exit through the Gift Shop is about reality or is hoax: because the moral of the story remains as it is, since street art has become fashionable, just as most other things do nowadays very quickly, leading to the instant killing of art, unless practiced in solitude. Art on large scale, from literature to paintings, was often always “brainwash” and now is even more so: the more popular an artist, the more the reason to be wary of brainwashing. More importantly than the message, the film also traces how something is erected to the scale of brainwashing, and if the film is indeed by Banksy, then there is no lack of self-ridicule in the film.

It is remarkable that a film largely constructed on footages and interviews could be at once revelatory, hilarious and a story: there is a hidden powerlessness in the film about the society; faced with more and more technology, where once art was perfected for years, it is possible to become an overnight artist now, since too often adulation and fame will win over the artist from what he could have loved doing. Of course, Guetta is no artist: he has maybe an artist’s temperament and passion, but not the skills, not the mind. But the larger question is, whether it is Guetta’s fault, or rather those of people like Banksy who produce signatured pranks, who court controversy and attention, and who think meaninglessness is art. When counterculture starts itself becoming culture, do we need to go back to culture, either embracing it as what we ran away from or trying it as a new “counter-counterculture”? And in all this, we forget why is meaninglessness so important to an increasing number of people today? Is this fondness for meaninglessness a reaction, and if so, then to what? Are we too informed with meanings and symbols all round? Or is it in fact beyond semiotics, is semiotics itself a semiotic game? Rather, do we live in a more and more heraldic world, with concepts and ideas serving now as heralds, instead of herbs and fauna?

A brilliant film, Exit through the Gift Shop will keep asking questions from all shades of consumers: tourists to art collectors, from those who find meaning in Cézanne to those who strive to create. The most disturbing question shall be: can we create anymore? Or, can we only copy and trick à la Guetta (urf Mr. Brainwash)?

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