24 HOUR GIVEAWAY: Get The Exclusive Guetta “Package”

By now you may have seen the visual masterpiece that is the David Guetta/Nicky Romero music video "Metropolis," directed by street artist Mr. Brainwash. (If you haven’t, then catch up son!). Now you have the chance to win an exclusive prize package from the video complete with:

– 12 Postcards of stills taken from the “Metropolis” video which was directed by Mr. Brainwash in part with Burn Productions, Jack Back Records, WhatAMusic and Astralwerks Records.
– A USB credit card shaped with three files:
-“Metropolis” MP3
-“Metropolis” Music Video
-“Metropolis” Behind the Scenes Video

Note: Only 100 packages were made, and one of them could be yours.

All you have to do is "Like" both VIBE and BlackBook (one VIBE reader and one BlackBook reader will have a chance to win a package) Facebook pages, and then comment below with an answer to the following question: "Why should you win?"

You have 24 hours…GO!

Art Basel: Mr. Brainwash Comes Clean (Sort Of)

The thing about interviewing someone like Mr. Brainwash (MBW), is that you can’t help but think you’re getting royally mind-fucked. The star of Exit Through the Gift Shop and the subject of never-ending speculation about his authenticity, is known to have walked a fine line between what is perceived to be art, and his version of it. Some dismiss his work as a minimally altered mass reproduction of images that are deeply rooted in our collective subconscious. His version lacks originality and substance, they say. But that has not stopped the Frenchborn aretist from carving out a niche as the one who makes art out of not making it.

“Brainwashing is what makes the whole world work. We don’t do anything without pushing something else,” he said, during a walk through his show at the Boulan South Beach. That didn’t exactly clear things up much, but his enthusiasm made up for any confusion we may have encountered trying to get to the bottom of all things Brainwash.

 

“There are no rules in art,” he explains, clearly enjoying the buzz hovering over the gallery. “I love the freedom of that.” And if that’s not true, the joke is on us. At the Fall 2010 Phillips de Pury & Company Contemporary Art Sale in London, MBW’s works sold for $67,000 and $120,000. That’s 3 times higher than what was speculated in the estimates. And with the possibility of a sequel to his documentary, Mr. Brainwash, wearing his artist-at-work paint splashed jeans, has a lot to laugh about. 

 

Photo by Natalie Edgar.

Mr. Brainwash Hired to Promote New Red Hot Chili Peppers Album

Mr. Brainwash, in case you don’t remember, is the videographer-turned-street “artist” in Exit Through the Gift Shop who was believed to be an elaborate hoax or performance art piece or something for a while. Turns out he must be officially “real” because the Red Hot Chili Peppers, who have already recruited Damien Hirst for their new cover art, have hired Mr. Brainwash to do a series of street art installations in L.A. promoting the new album.

Let me take this moment to commend RHCP for showing such a strong interest in contemporary art and using their platform as famous rock stars to bring it to a wide audience. But let me also take this moment to chastise them for choosing Mr. Brainwash (real name: Thierry Guetta) of all people, when there are plenty of kickass street artists out there. Did everyone here see Exit Through the Gift Shop? Brainwash’s M.O. is to mass-produce relentlessly empty and un-original pieces to the point of being sued for copyright infringement, all the while raking in large amounts of money. He’s kind of infuriating.

Then again, street art has to be monetized somehow and this is a creative way to accomplish that – maybe this will lead to artists with more cred getting this kind of opportunity. An example of Mr. Brainwash’s RHCP stuff:

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Run DMC Photographer Sues Mr. Brainwash

Street artist Thierry Guetta, a.k.a. Mr. Brainwash from Exit Through the Gift Shop, is being sued for copyright infringement over an image of Run DMC. Guetta allegedly used a 1985 photo by photographer Glen Friedman in artworks, prints, promotional materials, even postcards, without paying any licensing fees. Guetta is claiming “fair use,” which would allow him to use the image for things like parody even though it’s copyrighted. So, this must be conclusive evidence that Mr. Brainwash actually exists, right? How do you sue a fictional character made up by Banksy?

This is the first time since Shepard Fairey’s tiff with the AP that the street art world has been shaken up by a copyright dispute. Which is logical enough, because street art in its purest form is found on the street and its artists are anonymous. But now that street artists are becoming mainstream and having gallery shows (like Mr. Brainwash, who according to Exit Through the Gift Shop burst onto the scene in 2008 with a massive show in L.A.), their appropriation of pop culture images could get them in trouble.

What makes it depressing is that the art in question isn’t really that good. It’s just that photo of Run DMC (which is a great photo) with a bunch of graffiti on it. At least in Shepard Fairey’s case, he turned a photo of Obama into an iconic image with artistic value. Either way, it’ll be interesting to see how this one turns out and what repercussions it’ll have for street artists in the future.

Related: I was really hoping Mr. Brainwash wasn’t real. Too bad.

An Interview with Mr. Brainwash

Who is Mr. Brainwash?  Los Angeles-based and French born, the street artist—née Thierry Guetta—has been called a copycat, a hoax, a genius and a trustafarian. Some have accused him of being the notorious Banksy.  Controversial, passionate and outspoken, the artist’s pieces—a melange of familiar pop culture images (like a portrait of Michael Jackson, below) fused with his own quirky touches (created with record pieces)—are a hot ticket in the art market, selling for as much as $300,000. Banksy found him so intriguing, that he followed the artist for his documentary that debuted at Sundance last month, Exit Through the Gift Shop.  Last year, Madonna caught the Brainwash bug, commissioning him to create the cover for her album Celebration

On February 14, Mr. Brainwash made his New York debut, filling a 15,000 square foot space at 415 W. 13th Street in the Meatpacking District for an exhibit entitled Icons: Part One. A few days before the opening, as a blizzard raged around the city, I sat down in the venue with the enigmatic artist—who spoke in a thick French accent—clad in a trilby hat, Ray Ban aviators, a leather Member’s Only jacket, his jeans and Yellow Nikes splattered in paint. I questioned him about his relationships with Shepard Fairey and Banksy, working with Madonna, his moniker and his art.

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You were creating a documentary film on street artists before you became one. What made you put down the camera? The fame? The money? Were you inspired by the artists you followed? I was an artist before I was a filmmaker. I was making art just to make art, not to sell it. It was more like a decoration to myself. I did many different little businesses, and one time I decide that I wanted to stop what I was doing and start filming because I felt like filming was the strongest art that I could do. And what happened when I started filming everything, a few years later, I got to the path of street art. I started to follow street art, and I felt like it was really really interesting, really fun, it was dangerous.

What happened to your documentary? I know that the documentary was supposed to come out late 2005 or early 2006, and the documentary was supposed to come out, and the documentary was called Life Remote Control . You can still go online, on the dot com, and the trailer, it was going to come out, but it never did. It never did because when I met Banksy, he decided to ask me to wait about this film and that he would come up with something, with an idea or something. I said yes because I love the guy. I trust him. I decided to say, okay. So a year-and-a-half later, he came up with this idea to make a film about me, making a film about them.

What was it like with tables turned having the camera pointed at you? It’s just that when I make a film, you don’t hear me. I’m behind the camera, even when I talk I cut it’s off, but he turned the whole thing around, I become the one in the film, I become the kind of subject of the film. It comes to a point, this is me and Banksy, we meet, he was a very hard person to get, and I got the point to film him, trusting me, and you know, being friends, being good friends. He never trusts anybody to get images or film him, and he trusts me. He was not wrong about it because I’m still here and I’m still with him.

What made him trust you? A feeling. You don’t know if you got the connection, and I guess something happens.

What is your relationship like with Banksy now? How often do you see him? This I cannot reveal how much did I see him or things, but let’s say we are very very good friends.

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And your relationship with Shepard Fairey? I’m close, you know we saw each other not long ago. Like two weeks ago, or ten days ago. But the feeling with Shepard Fairey is not the same thing with Banksy. Shepard Fairey is a friend, but Banksy, it’s like a brother. It’s not the same at all.

Why did you choose Mr. Brainwash for your moniker? I choose Mr. Brainwash like I would choose something else, but I thought that everything is about brainwashing in a way, you know—every images. I think life is about brainwashing, like when you go somewhere, you drink a chocolate in the morning, your mother brings you this yellow box and you get brainwashed from it. I got brainwashed from what I see. I thought it was a cool name and I don’t know, I just like the sound of it, and I guess it has a meaning with what I do. It started long, long time ago in the late ’80s that I create this name with one of my brothers and we were taking all logos and turning them around. Like I would take Nike—it would say “Just Do It,” and I would change it—”Just Did It.” When I decided to fall back in the art world, I didn’t want to use my name, Thierry Guetta, because it was like we were in the 2000s, people use always something, like a brand, like a name, so you had to find a name, a brand. A name that we present to you, but not your personal name. And I just took the name from the past, Mr. Brainwash. I had it, it was there, I knew that one day I would do something with it, and it came alive.

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Are you trying to brainwash people with your art? It’s all about brainwashing. Even if I don’t try, that’s what it is. You know when you put something outside if you want or you don’t want, you’re going to have to see it because it’s outside, so you’ll get brainwashing. I think that any artist or anything that you see for very long time, you’ll get brainwashing whatever it is.

How did it feel to have Madonna commission you to create the album cover for Celebration? (below) I feel proud, because Madonna, I feel that she’s a legend—she’s been doing it for many many many years and she’s still here.

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Have you met her in person? No, because when I started working for her, she was doing a tour, a world tour, so she was dealing with 50,000 people everyday. She didn’t have to say, “Oh, Mr. Brainwash, I have to meet him.” She has other things to do. But the at the beginning it i had to get approval, or something like this, but after, when she started to believe in me, it was like anything I wanted to do was approved right away. She always looked at it. I think she is the one who controls all the game, so she sees everything. It was great, and they let me sign my name on the front of the album, and everything that I do for her I sign my name on it, so it was pretty nice for them to accept that. I guess it’s not going to be long that we’re going to actually meet. But I feel like I know her already.

Shepard Fairey was quoted as saying about you, “the thing about him is, is that he is motivated, but he also has a lot of money and a lot of assistants and so a lot of that work doesn’t even have his own hand in it. And I have mixed feelings about all of that.” How do you feel about that? I’m not like I don’t have money, I mean I work for what I did. I lost my mother when I was 11. I lost my father when I was 18. There is nobody who gave me a dollar, I worked for what I have. And it’s not like my father or mother left me millions of dollars to live, they left me zero, and I work for what I have. I don’t think it makes a difference if somebody has money or somebody doesn’t. There are people who have millions of dollars but they don’t do anything with that. And to have some assistants, it’s for sure that when I do a show that is 15 or 20,000 square feet, I’m not going to do it alone. I don’t think, when he says something like this, I don’t think he works alone either. Today we are in the 2010. Technology, computers, machines, people, when I build an installation, I’m not going to come with a hammer, and start with nails. Even if I have 20 people and a bus, I’m still the driver, there is one driver and it’s me, so whatever comes in my head, it’s me who decides if it’s good or bad, or if it’s going to be made, or not made.

Why do you produce art that is derivative of artists like Banksy, Warhol and Fairey? People have called you a copycat as well, why not do something that is original instead? You know I follow what I feel in my heart. I’m not going to say the name because I don’t want to, but these people didn’t copy other people too? I follow my heart. And if they feel that I copy something, like I say, you cannot judge somebody from a first show, from a second show. You judge somebody from little bits, some years in his life. I have a lot of people who hate me at the beginning, when I started making the first show, and little by little after coming out with a print, and another print, little by little, they start buying the prints. And they said, “you know what, I like what he does.” Little by little you can feel that I’m not like Banksy and I’m not like Shepard Fairey—I’ve become myself.

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What kind of statement are you trying to make with your art? I am trying to make a statement with art that there are no limits. You do art with your heart. It’s just you, you become the art, somewhere nobody can stop you. You continue, you evaluate, that’s why I said you cannot judge somebody from a first show. What do you know about me? Give time to people. Like Andy Warhol, when he started, people were making fun of him, “this is shit.” Now he’s in museums. Same thing with Pollack.

Your show is titled Icons: Part One. To you, what makes somebody an Icon? Somebody who creates something that we kind of live with them. When you see Jimi Hendrix, Jimi Hendrix is a simple guy that learned guitar by himself and somewhere he made the world today. There are millions of people that know who he is because he pushed on something that he loved. He really gave passion into what he loved to do and he made it iconic. The same thing with Elvis, with Louis Armstrong, the same thing with Blondie, David Bowie. It’s people who really believed with something in their heart and made it happen. They have dreams and they make it a reality.

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Madonna’s ‘Celebration’ Art Reflects Dwindling Legacy

Yes, yes, there’s been much hullabaloo about Madonna maybe-killing two of her dancers, which after figuratively castrating ex-husband Guy Ritchie and kidnapping a Brazilian boy and a little Malawi girl, may not seem like such a stretch. But appropriately enough, she’s also making time to celebrate her legacy, one that bottomed out right before the 21st century. For which reason, it’s no surprise that this collection, her third greatest hits package — second in nine years — banks on the appeal of her earlier work.

Everything about the campaign for this third volume of greatest hits — Celebration — smacks of long-ago nostalgia. Jonas Åkerlund is directing the collection’s first single of the same name. He lent his aesthetic brilliance to many of her past videos. This includes “Ray of Light”, a single spawned from what was arguably the final bit of pop brilliance the singer put out before her attempts at breaking trends started sliding, becoming contrived, though still respectable but then simply tragic.

Even the album art, designed by Mr. Brainwash, hearkens back to East Village street art. Though troublingly enough, it seems like imitation of street art, like the Urban Outfitters-ization of a Warholian prototype. Which may be the most succinct way of summarizing the pop star’s career — from her early Basquiat-dating days to eventual superstardom and megalomania. It also kind of hits that middle ground between when she started becoming more noted for sparking trends than pathetically limping to keep up with them.

It’s fine that the art visually places a notable emphasis on “Express Yourself” and “Vogue” over the travesties that would come much later; her body of work from the first 20 years of her career is nothing short of iconic. It’s just the near-decade since where Madonna has sabotaged the greatness of her own back-catalog with silly media stunts and cynical career choices. Nevertheless, that’s almost 30 years in the business, two thirds spent at the top. This is something no contemporary pop aspirant will achieve. Or at least not anytime soon.

We could hope for this collection to inspire the singer to take a hard look at the direct relation between her creative decline and the increased frequency of creative flops. But that’s foolishness. For Madonna’s uneven legacy, Celebration will probably be a band-aid on a bullet wound.
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