Brainwash and Art

I just finished watching the street art documentary “Exit Through the Gift Shop” again and as it did the first time, it got me thinking. (some spoilers follow. I do recommend watching the film before reading on.) The documentary starts out with our unusual documentarian meeting and getting caught up in the street art community. After ultimately failing to produce a documentary from his thousands of hours of tape, he is told to stop filming and try to make some art of his own while someone else tries to make something out of his tapes. He does this and creates a body of work that is a horrible dizzying derivative mess created by an army of contracted artists.

It is a very thought provoking issue because of the nature of the art produced. The filmmaker, who adopts the name Mr. Brainwash, ends up throwing off ideas in a manic frantic way and uses other artists working under him to bring the ideas to fruition. He is a DJ spinning and mixing together the work of others and then assigning someone else to finish the work. .

Here is a man with creative vision but no discipline. His creativity is broad but not deep. The street artists that helped create him regret the act. Shepard Fairey and Bansky are troubled by the outcome of their association with Mr. Brainwash.

I can’t help but be jealous of Mr. Brainwash’s bold confidence. He is unflinching in his creative process. As unoriginal as he is, he is bold and unrelenting. I wish that i had created a fraction of the art that he has made. I need to take a lesson from this man and be braver about creation and to make more good work. The other lesson is to not make sub-par copy/past work that has been created by others. There is a legitimacy to directors, editors, and producers, but there is a limit to how much authorship you can claim to a work that you have commissioned and not wrought with your own hands.