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Caroline Hagood

Caroline Hagood
Brooklyn, New York,
November 23
I'm a writer living in Brooklyn. My articles have appeared in various publications, including The Guardian, Salon, the Huffington Post, and The Economist. My first book of poems, Lunatic Speaks, is available from FutureCycle Press and my second poetry book, Making Maxine's Baby, is available from Hanging Loose Press:


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Editor’s Pick
MAY 3, 2010 11:43AM

Banksy, Exit Through the Gift Shop & the Rise of Street Art

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Banksy Exit Through the Gift Shop 

Warning: Spoiler alert (although, after reading this, you may realize that this is impossible)

These days, when people hear the term street art, they often picture 
Shepard Fairey’s Obama Hope poster, yet it has a diverse history that includes everything from Keith Haring’s brightly colored bodies to the cubism of the graffiti world--the three-dimensional lettering that old school New York City writer Tracy 168 dubbed Wildstyle. It encompasses artists from Michelangelo—who wrote his name in the remains of Domus Aurea so many centuries ago--to Neck FaceRon EnglishJef Aérosol,Tod HansonSwoonTwist, and, of course, the Pied Piper of street hype and city storytelling, Banksy

Central to Banksy’s allure is his anonymity. Nobody is sure who the artist behind these hit-and-run hybrids of the sociopolitical and the silly really is. Whether he’s painting an 
image of children playing under a hole that opens onto Paradise on the West Bank barrier, mounting his own outlandish works without invitation in leading museums, or leaving a mock Guantanamo Bay prisoner by a ride in Disney Land to scare the daylights out of the citizens of the magic kingdom, Banksy is ever the human question mark.

In his documentary Exit Through the Gift Shop (2010), Banksy provides us with a candid look at the world of street art, a form the film’s narrator (Rhys Ifans) refers to as “the biggest counterculture movement since punk;” or does he? He frames “the world’s first street art disaster” flick by saying that Thierry Guetta--the mad Frenchman 
with even madder mutton chops--started out making a documentary on him; but the eccentric videographer proved more interesting in the end, and a strange switcharoo occurred: Banksy became filmmaker and Thierry became artist—the wildly successful Mr. Brainwash, to be exact.

Mr. Brainwash, The Cans Festival, Banksy Tunnel,  London (look familiar?)

Thierry’s journey into the world of stickers, stencils, and streets that brought him to Shepard Fairey, and finally Banksy, began when he started lensing the idiosyncratic mosaic pieces of his cousin, 
Space Invader. With its short life span (often “cleaned up” by city workers soon after it appears), street art was in need of documentation, and Thierry was in the right place at the right time…if there ever was a Thierry. 

Perched somewhere between truth and fiction, vandalism and art, the film presents a riddle of sorts. If Thierry is make-believe, then he and Exit Through the Gift Shop, sprung as they are from the spray can of celluloid, imagination, and hype, just may be Banksy’s greatest guerilla art installation yet.

The film leaves us with the questions, is Thierry an act of cinematic vandalism on a gullible, adoring public? Even more stunning: is Thierry Banksy? That we don’t have the answers is the film’s point—all great hoaxes have an art to them, and all great art is a bit of a hoax. Regardless of who can rightfully claim the credit, Exit Through the Gift Shop manages to capture the fleeting lyricism of an art form that most people only see while whizzing past on subways.


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Gee, thanks for spoiling it for me, Caroline. There's double feature with Zmbieland at my local bijou.
PS: I attended a Shepard Fairey exhibition in LA. Quite terrific.
"All great art is a bit of a hoax"

Love that line. As a (self proclaimed) artist, I often find myself asking, is art about the audience, or is art about the artist themselves?

Interesting conundrum there (if you ask me)
I really like Banksy . . . he's a first class act, in so many ways. Even with emphasis on the "act."
Several "Banksies" recently appeared in San Francisco. My daughter and her friends quickly went on a treasure hunt with their cameras. They had great fun tracking them down and talking to people about the art.
Anxious to see it now. Thanks for this, Caroline. I'd rate it for title and graphics alone.
Fascinating Caroline, as you always are. I read all through your Bansky link and learned something new. So, when you site "Bansky Tunnel" is that its real name (which I had thought) or is it jsut where a lot of his art is?
"Exit Through the Gift Shop manages to capture the fleeting lyricism of an art form that most people only see while whizzing past on subways."

These are the kind of things I miss because of my locale... and why
I want to live in a big city.
Caroline, I love the way you write.
"sprung as they are from the spray can of celluloid, imagination, and hype"
Your writing is so good and your topics so unique, I always learn something from you. Thank you.
Caroline, I hadn't read about this before and I thank you for the heads up! Your mention of Keith Haring as a part of street art history brought back happy memories. The above video being a UK trailer and the release date shown is spring 2010, do you know if that is the same schedule for the U.S.?
Oh John, you lovable curmudgeon, no spoilage here:) Glad you liked Fairey exhibit.

Placebostudman: there is a hoaxy quality about much of what people have jumped on the band wagon of over the years.

Owl: Strong emphasis on act. Thanks for stopping by.

Julie: that's the thing, I think he brings out the inner artistic adventurer in a lot of people.

Kathy: thanks. I think you'd like it.

Trilogy: I was wondering if anyone would click all the links. Congratulations, I think you may be the only one to do that. The tunnel is referred to in a couple of different ways. During the time it was officially on show, it was called The Cans Festival. It's located on Leake street near Waterloo station and so it gets referred to in those terms as well.

Amanda: thanks so much. There are things I resent about living in a big city, but things like this are the perk.

marytkelly: What a kind thing to say. You know I feel the same. I particularly loved your post on women's anger today.

designanator: you're in luck, it's playing right now in NYC at the Sunshine, Bam, and one other theater:
can't WAIT to see it, and the so-called controversy over the existence of Thierry only adds to its appeal.

And... down @ Houston and Bowery in NYC, you have a new Shepard Fairey installation, laid - safely - Over an Os Gemeos' piece; which had in turn been laid on top of a KeitherHaring mural. {The Gemeos' mural is retrievable, and will be revealed after the Fairey piece's work is done!}

God I love synergy!
It isn't likely to come here anytime soon, so I'm forced to wait for Netflix. But I appreciate the review, Caroline! You didn't spoil it for me; you intrigued me. I want to read what others have to say about it too.
I wish I had time to go see this - AGGGHH!!! Thanks for the review - looks like I'll have to wait for Netflix though
This is gonna be fun! God I remember Sheperd Fairey from his Andre the Giant days in the early 80's!

Have you taken the underground NY walking tour of the subway tunnels? some interesting art down there!
i love the one where the sidewalk is lifted and someone is sweeping the dust & garbage off the street beneath it.

i like the met installments! good for him!

definitely going to watch this.
I love this! This is true art! It's about messing with the establishment. Surrealism, Dada, I think it's great that he hung stuff in the museum. And I love the whole superhero,secretive art creation. I'd love to see this movie ! I doubt it will make it to Arkansas. Will you tape it for me? I'm sure Bansky wouldn't mind if you bootleg!
YOU are a class act , Caroline. Thank you! R
I remember being in New York when Keith Haring was just a nuisance. So there is still life in the city?
Thanks for drawing my attention to this. The film looks great, Caroline. And your story here is thought provoking as usual. Girl, you are getting DEEP w/ the hyperlinks. I gotta learn to do that! An inspiration. :-)
Man, it's been years since I read enough to really know what was going on in the art world.

thanks for bringing it right to my doorstep, CH. I really enjoyed reading this and clicking on all the links. Very interesting!
"hit-and-run hybrids of the sociopolitical and the silly"--nicely done!

Terrific review, as always, Caroline: Thank you for once again bringing something new and revealing to me.
An artist friend of mine told me long ago that art is nine-tenths personality, with craftsmanship the other tenth. Lotta both on display here, including the writing. All of this is new to me. Thank you, Caroline.
Thanks for sharing and the piece on Banksy! I wanna see this film...And LOL at the trailer with the Cannes emblem: "CANNES...It's a nice place to visit."
ConnieMack: I know! I LOVE the synergy.

Bellwether: I'm so glad it was more intriguing than spoiling.

ChilerPop: it's worth the wait.

Poppi: Yes, the underground tunnel walk is magical

Renatta: yeah, that's a great one.

Anne Cameron: Exactly. Sure, I'll bootleg the heck out of it for you:)

Thoth: thank you so very much.

Divorce Bard: there is certainly still life in the city

PattyJane: I'm hyperlink crazy over here.

Charlie: My pleasure.

AtHomePilgrim: I'm so glad you liked it.

Matt: I can see that nine-tenths personality thing in art. very right on.

Colleen: I love that Cannes emblem thing, too. Thanks for reading.
Some day I hope to see Banksy's stuff in person. r
old new lefty: I hope you get to see that. Thanks for stopping by.
thanks for the intriguing review! I doubt I'll catch it in the theaters but adding it to my Netflix queue. I have very mixed feelings about graffiti artists. Actually the "artists" I can enjoy, it's the mundane graffiti-ists that drive me mad, living in an urban area they deface regularly.
thanks for making me want to see this!
silkstone: It's such a thin line. Defacing property just for the sake of it (especially in an ugly way) is just pointless, but some of these people create incredible things. I think the first kind bothers you and that makes sense to me. interesting.
dolores: I'm glad it did. thanks!
Really Fun!
R again +
How can you not mention Basquiat and his SAMO alter-ego? Shame on you.

Also, I am jealous that you already got to see this movie. One of the advantages to living in the city, I suppose.