Friday, February 25, 2011

Banksy at the Oscars: Anonymity and Fame Collide

“The last time there was a naked man covered in gold paint in my house it was me.” Banksy

Britain’s enigmatic street artist Bansky is up for an academy award for the film, Exit Through The Gift Shop, a documentary featuring among others, street art stars Banksy and Shepard Fairey.

If we are to accept the premise of the film (and with a prankster like Banksy we are not  entirely certain that we can) it came about when the obsessive filming of street artists by eccentric Frenchman Thierry Guetta looked destined to remain in the form of stockpiled unlabeled video in unmarked tubs.

Banksy as he appears in the film concealing his identity with a dark hoodie.

Banksy took over the film project encouraging Guetta to have his own art show. Changing his name to “Mr. Brainwash” Guette then attempts to mimic Banksy’s successful crossover into the highly lucrative art world of Los Angeles. Guette becomes an overnight sensation with a wildly successful massive show featuring dubious Warhol/Banksy style works. Says Banksy, the resulting film documents “the story of how one man set out to film the unfilmable - and failed”. The Los Angeles Times calls the film, "subversive, provocative and unexpected... a hall of mirrors as unsettling as anything Lewis Carroll's Alice ever experienced".

Girl Shooting Crayons, Banksy, Los Angeles, 2011

How does Bansky, an artist who insists on anonymity even attend the Academy Awards, the epitome of glitz and celebrity? The Academy has refused his request to attend in disguise. Says the Academy’s executive director Bruce Davis, “The fun but disquieting scenario is that if the film wins and five guys in monkey masks come to the stage all saying, ‘I’m Banksy,’ who the hell do we give it to?” None the less Banksy seems to be lobbying for his film by doing what he does best, paying nighttime visitations to the blank walls and billboards of Hollywood.

References: The Guardian UK, New York Times
Previous posts featuring Banksy and Shepard Fairey:

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