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Archive for September, 2010

“He is truly an enigma in his own right, and a force of nature…and I don’t mean that in a good way.” – Banksy

For anyone fortunate enough to have seen the brilliant Banksy-mentary “Exit Through the Gift Shop,” they probably strolled out of the cinema, asking themselves one question (whilst either perplexedly scratching their head or laughing in disbelief): “Why is anyone taking Mr. Brainwash seriously?”

For those who have yet to watch “ETTGS,” MBW is the pseudonym of the film’s unwitting protagonist, a French gift shop proprietor/aspiring videographer, called Thierry Guetta. After tracking down and befriending Banksy, the latter decides, rather subversively (and cheekily) to turn the camera (and the tables) on Guetta, by convincing him to set down his video camera and pick up an aerosol can. Taking this as the grandest of omens, from his “graffiti art God,” Guetta, in the most self-aggrandizing manner, transforms into Mr. Brainwash. But rather than decorating the canvas with his own imagination, MBW feels more inclined to take the route of lethargy and commercial pretentious, by hiring assistants to photoshop the work of established artists and applying his “recycled Banksy” touch to them. As his profile quickly rises (along with his bank account), MBW’s portfolio of uninspired drivel, culminates in his ingloriously infamous L.A. exhibition “Life is Beautiful,” which is prominently captured, in the latter half, of “ETTGS.” The “low-light” of the exhibition, without question, is a robot constructed entirely out of televisions.

Much debate has ensued, over whether or not MBW is a bonafide artist, or if he’s simply a performance piece, masterfully cultivated by Banksy, to prove that art is not in the eye of the beholder, but the one with the checkbook and grossest naivete (and/or ignorance). There’s even some speculation (albeit of the most ridiculous kind) that MBW is actually Banksy himself, and that “ETTGS” is Banky’s most ingenious joke yet, allowing him the last (and most bombastic) laugh, on both the art world and its wealthy collectors.

Whether his work and profile are valid or not, this much can be said about MBW; when it comes to the “art” of regurgitation, exploitation, a tepid imagination, a lack of inspiration and straightforward copyright infringement, he is, TRULY, an enigma and a force of nature, and I don’t mean that in a good way (thanks Banksy :)).

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With summer being the time of year, when the cinemas are polluted, with the utter rubbish of big budget mainstream productions, the brilliantly crafted documentary, “Exit Through the Gift Shop,” is a pure breath of fresh air.

Marking the directorial debut, of the prolific, Bristol-bred graffiti artist, Banksy, “Exit” is a provocative, thought provoking inside look, into the utterly surreal world, of street art. The film focuses on Thierry Guetta, an idiosyncratic French gift shop owner, and aspiring filmmaker, who has spent his whole life, filming his whole life, for no concrete purpose, other than to document the daily experiences, of his existence, that he knows will only come around once. Through a fortuitous turn of events, a cousin introduces him to the bizarre yet fascinating world, of street art. As Guetta begins enthusiastically filming this compelling (and budding) form of creative expression, and the individuals who helped cultivate it, he learns, through word of mouth, about the “Batman from Bristol,” whose work is taking England, as well as the world, by storm. Guetta thus begins his singularly obsessive quest, to find Banksy, and get him on the record.

Courtesy of an incredibly random circumstance, Guetta’s ultimate wish is finally granted, and upon meeting up with Banksy, in London, Guetta is immediately transported into the world, of one of the most reclusive and mysterious artists, ever. After gaining the trust of both Banksy and his loyal entourage, Guetta is granted access, into one of the most coveted locations of the art world; Banksy’s personal studio. It’s here that we’re given a fascinatingly rare glimpse, into the world of a man who has been all around the world, satirically mocking the inept institutions, of politics and media, through his simplistic yet vibrant stencil drawings.

It goes without saying (even though it’s about to be) that “Exit Through the Gift Shop” is, by far, the most compelling, eye-opening and enthralling film of the year. It deftly reinforces Banksy’s gift, for taking the things we find uncomfortable, unacceptable and unforgivable, and putting them in the spotlight, with an acerbic comedic touch.

It can truly be said, that this film is, indeed, a “Gift.”

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Tiz: So Scott, as one who was interested in attending this concert, what are your first impressions walking away from it? Either with the crowd, the actual performance, the venue, sound quality, anything like that.
Scoots: As I said earlier, the venue was fitting for that group (School of Seven Bells) because, first of all, it was a quartet, but they definitely weren’t the kind of band that could fill an arena, you know with their presence or their sound, but-
T: What do you mean by that? Elaborate.
S: I could tell right away they just had the vibe of a band that belonged in a club as opposed to Wembley Arena or MSG. The Blind Pig was just-
T: So either the Blind Pig or someone’s closet would work-
S: Somebody’s garage-
T: What about the guitar player?
S: Mr. Crisscrossed Guitar straps with the wife beater?
T: And his hair? What would you call that? “Flock of Seagulls?”
S: He was trying to do a fusion of “Flock of Seagulls” and Flea. He was like, “Look at me! I’ve got two chicks in my band! I’m awesome!”
T: Yeah, yeah.
S: “I look like I’m actually playing guitar, but I’m not! I’m just playing power chords!”
T: Yeah, he was playing Guitar Hero. He had the buttons on his guitar.
S: He was just so used to “red, blue green!”
T: From what you could tell, how do you think the crowd was absorbing it…or not?
S: The only way I could describe it; it looked as if it were an active morgue. People were just standing there and they weren’t sure if they should be dancing or-
T: Yeah, they didn’t know if they should buy into it fully.
S: There was no one there who wanted to be the first person to say “Yeah, this band is awesome even though they’re not, but I want to make it look as if they are.” Warm cadavers…
T: And then there was that big pause between the second opening band and SSB.
S: There was a timid restlessness of “Ok, what’s the hold up here? We didn’t pay the best of money, but we still paid.”
T: Right, it’s like, “Plug in your Mac. Plug in your other Mac. Get the drums set up.”
S: “Use your little chromatic scale tool and get the fuck on stage.”
T: “Plug in your two microphones and let’s get this show on the road.”
S: Yeah, it’s past my bedtime and I’m staying up because of you or for you or due to you.
T: Due to you?
S: DUE-TO-YOU. (sung on the monochromatic scale)
T: (laughs)
S: Doooooo TOOOOOOO Yooooooou.
T: Is that one of their (SSB) songs?
S: Actually that might have been the song after their opener.
T: What was the opening song?
S: “Half Asleep,” which I think was fitting because that was how the crowd seemed to look.
T: What was the chorus of that song? I couldn’t understand anything they were saying.
S: Something about (pauses) I’ve heard the song so many times. I can’t recall the chorus. The lyrics, even in the studio version, are kind of incoherent. Maybe it’s just the way it was produced.
T: Maybe they don’t want anybody to actually hear what they’re saying cause it’s stupid.
S: I mean, if it’s just going to be “duh DUH duh.”
T: What was the line you told me walking home?
S: Oh, off the “Connjur” track. Um, “We’ll just smile and wait ’til he nods off…”. I’m thinking, “Is this a bastardized version of ‘Moon River?'”
T: Wait, and then did they roofie him?
S: (laughs)
T: They’re gonna draw a dick on his forehead. Um, what’s the name of their album?
S: “Alpinisms” which I also heard this on the interview, too. They said it’s a metaphor, the chick who was responsible for the singing-the monochromatic scale singing-
T: The endless monochromatic scale singing-
S: She was saying that alpinism is a form of mountain climbing, where you scale up the mountain, with as little as possible, so that you’re not disrupting the essence of the mountain itself. She felt it was the perfect metaphor for the theme of their album-
T: They don’t really seem like camping, country, forest types-
S: Personally, I think it should have been called “Monochromaticisms.” Something about, maybe it was just watching the videos today on YouTube that made me think, “Well okay, I’ll give them a shot. I’m not walking in with the highest of expectations. Thankfully, I didn’t…”.
T: What did you think about the Eight Ball (bar)?
S: (laughs) The Low Ball?
T: The Playa Haters’ Ball?
S: The Head Bangers’ Ball?
T: If you had to describe it, what would be the description of the smell (in the Eight Ball)?
S: If I shoved my head up a yeti’s ass and took a big sniff, that would be the Eight Ball. Or a pungent combination of piss, bleach, and cigarette smoke-
T: Well, residual cigarette smoke-
S: A dude’s armpit. Many armpits.
T: Armpit City.
S: Stale beer.
T: Innocence lost.
S: Beyond many other things.
T: Scuzzballs…Scuzzettes.
S: What about you? Given that you were the other witness to this sham (concert performance)?
T: I don’t know, I just felt like there was so much hype about the show. It was like everyone I talked to was like, “Oh, you’re going to ‘School of Seven Bells.’ I wanna be there! I wanna be there!” So I was like, “Damn, I am gonna go,” but in the back of my mind I felt not completely intrigued.
S: Sure.
T: And now that I think about it, it kind of correlated to Mr. Brainwash (see “Exit Through the Gift Shop”).
S: Oh yeah…
T: The MBW. There was so much hype about this show, then they get on stage-
S: Late-
T: Late. The one chick’s kind of playing the keyboard, maybe because she just wanted to stand behind something. The other chick playing guitar intermittently-it didn’t seem to be very intrical to the band-
S: “Intrical?” That’s an interesting word.
T: Is that a word?
S: Not really.
T: (laughs)
S: But that’s all right. Integral?
T: “Integral!” That’s what I was looking for.
S: Is that like “asstedkick?’
T: No, it’s kind of like “electronical.” And then they had the d-bag on guitar just fuckin’ soakin’ it up! Soakin’ it up so hard!
S: I love too how when they were doing their sound check or I didn’t really know what they were up to, the chick on the right, I loved how she’d go up to the mic and stare out into space. She kind of had that deer in headlights look.
T: Maybe she was meditating.
S: “I’m about to climb my Mountain,” without a pack.
T: What is it again? “Alpinisms?”
S: An alpinism.
T: I thought it was somehow going to be related to Al Pacino and I was kind of excited about that.
S: Yeah, “Take the cannolis, leave the stage.”
T: If you had to look into the future and predict the trajectory of this band, what do you think it’s going to be?
S: I’m quite positive they won’t last for another album and honestly if they did and I had to listen to it, I would have no qualms about taking it for free. Like if I had to write a review of it and didn’t own it, piracy would be the option.
T: (laughs) STRAIGHT UP PIRACY!
S: Given this band got their name from a mythical school of pickpockets, it just seems appropriate. The drummer I think was the sole saving grace.
T: Cool, okay, so overall rating, I give it two and a half out of five.
S: I would give it mmmm-mmmmm (clears throat)-
T: You just give it a throat clearing?
S: I give it (fart noise) out of five.
T: Oh, but we should also mention ‘Active Child.’ Pretty interesting. By far the shining moment in the evening.
S: One of the few shows I’ve been to where the opening band surpasses the main event. They could sing, they had their shit together. The bass player was in the groove.
T: And even though the singer was a ginger, he was alright.
S: Yeah. I give them four out of five.
T: Yeah, a shout to the dark horse of the evening.
S: The bronze medalists who deserve gold.

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