Friday, January 14, 2011

Banksy: Exit Through The Gift Shop: A Good One #7

In 1917, Marcel Duchamp supposedly purchased a urinal, signed his name on it, and submitted it to an art exhibition. It was never shown and created a huge controversy. A photo was taken of this groundbreaking piece of conceptual art, and then the piece itself was supposedly lost. Duchamp commissioned copies of this work of art known as "Fountain", and these are what you see in museums around the world. In the meantime, Duchamp created a few more conceptual artworks (at one point actually assuming the guise of a women known as Rrose Selavy) but he supposedly grew tired of art. The world believed he retired, and had become a world class chess master. In reality, he had been working for 25 years on his masterpiece, the room-sized installation known as Etant Donne, and it was not shown to the public until after his death. It is in the Philadelphia Museum Of Art, in a dim little room off the main Duchamp collection (the largest in the world), and if you don't know what you're looking for you very well might miss it. The Etant Donne is a pair of very large wooden doors with a peephole, and you should get very close and look at what lies beyond.

What does this have to do with Banksy: Exit Through The Gift Shop? Nothing, or possibly everything. On the surface, this is a very well crafted and entertaining documentary about street art. Or you could take my viewpoint, and see it as a much grander piece of conceptual artwork. I would say more, but what does it matter? Is truth what the documentarian chooses to present to us? Or is the truth what the documentarian chooses to leave out, or keeps hidden from view? Judge for yourself. On Netflix Instant Streaming.

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