I’ve always found street art fascinating, though I never really heard it called art growing up. Graffiti, as it was called, was like an underground movement, attracting a large number of people who had not so much a passion for sharing art as for becoming a part of the movement. “Cooler” and more rebellious kids would give themselves aliases so they could “tag” and mark as many buildings, roofs, trucks, and garage doors as they could. In retrospect, while there were beautiful, elaborate murals decorating subway stations and back alley walls, there was also a mindlessness that followed this new law-breaking, self-expressive crowd. The people that tried desperately to get into this crowd ultimately made street art meaningless, turning statements into a cycle of empty names to be painted over.
The film was an interesting vantage point from the people who actually started the street art movement. It’s compelling that the “original” artists weren’t really interested in money or fame, and yet their simple unadorned appreciation for art created a sensation that brought them both wealth and popularity. It’s a stark contrast to MBW who was obsessed with being as popular as Bansky, and attained wealth and fame by exploiting others’ celebrity and “creating” uninspired works. While his projects may have had monetary value, they lacked meaning, one thing the “original” artists made sure they had. In a way, Thierry chose the perfect alias for himself, as he basically created a fusion of already seen street art and brainwashed the public into believing that his lack of creativity was groundbreaking art. Banksy was undoubtedly MBW’s greatest enabler, and it sucks that such a great artist now hesitates to encourage others to pursue art because of this experience.