I went to go watch Exit Through the Gift Shop, a documentary style film directed by Banksy focusing on street art. I really enjoyed the film and the questions that it posed.
The main question for me was ‘how do we value art?’. Is it simply made important because of what the public and critics think? Is it the artist and his specific voice? Or is it the art itself? In Exit Through the Gift Shop Thierry Guetta, a Frenchman with no art experience or skill, creates an art exhibition that is only made popular by endorsements by Banksy and other street artists. Suddenly he is in magazines and doing interviews even though he can’t make art.
Art is very difficult to value as it is simply someone’s expression and I think this is Banksy’s point. The popular culture feed off what others are saying, what is in trendy magazines, what is on MTV. We base our opinion so heavily on what others think and how others value something.
Slap a $30 000 price tag on a piece of art and put it in a trendy gallery and watch it sell. In making it about the money we can often ignore what the artist is saying. It becomes dollars and cents and ceases to be expression and creativity. Success for the artist is not in money, but rather in being able to express a part of oneself.
An artist must move against culture, searching for new ways to express oneself. It is the perpetuation of creativity. An artist discovers a new way of expressing themselves and at first culture ignores or scorns them, but slowly people see an original and new expression and suddenly it becomes cool, and this forces the artist to move on. The arts will always be evolving trying to stay out of reach of popular culture.