After premiering at Sundance five years ago, one of the most talked-about documentaries of 2010 was Exit Through the Gift Shop, the artist Banksy’s comic, semi-autobiographical history of street art. “It’s a masterpiece! — It’s a travesty! — It’s a master-travesty! — It’s the best documentary ever! — It’s not a documentary at all, but an elaborate prank by an insolent prankster….”
Enthusiasts and critics are chronically nearsighted. We have the tendency to deem every new twist or turn a breakthrough in the form or a masterpiece. Intellectually, we know that this is a contradiction because masterpieces are only revealed through the perspective of time. Breakthroughs cannot be recognized without the distance to see if they will persist in the critical discussion and influence conventions and practices.
Read the essay at The Talkhouse.