CMJ: Mr. Brainwash at the Fader Fort


Mr. Brainwash splashes the Fader Fort. CREDIT

Mr. Brainwash
Fader Fort
October 22-25

The highlights of this season’s Fader Fort are the usual accoutrements: free Bass Ale bottles, free Sparks, free red SoCo potion, and a seemingly endless roster of 25-minute sets from fashionably new bands who’re trying to reconcile whether they’ll be criminally slept on or slept with. But another perceived attraction at this year’s Gen F hamster nest is that it quietly doubles as solo exhibition for Mr. Brainwash (a/k/a MBW), a famously eccentric French filmmaker who by virtue of trying to make the consummate graffiti documentary, started palling around with Shepard Fairey and Banksy years ago, which, in Fairey’s words, “lead [MBW] to transition from just a voyeur to a participant.” So Brainwash hit the streets with his own work, made a name for himself repurposing imagery of Run-DMC and Britney and Madonna kissing, had a high-profile show in Los Angeles last year, yadda yadda yadda, he’s a pop-cultural Blek the Rat, but better.

So Mr. Brainwash’s work is all over the Fort: framed portraits of Kanye and Jim Morrison cobbled from vinyl-record slices line the walls, Sid Vicious heads dot the outside grate, a mock Obama/McCain fight-card is all over artists’ entrance. Yesterday, the Friendly Fires struck photogenic poses in front of his Alfred Hitchcock LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL stencils, work that the artist put up last month down the block, next to that neon Keith Haring mural on Houston.

In this instance, Mr. Brainwash is, of course, a hired gun meant to evoke some urban authenticity in a temporary space—and admittedly, it’s a pretty nice touch to the place, right up there with the free Sparks. Here’s the rub: as you can see from the photos, MBW’s pieces inside the Fort are splashed with paint, as if they’ve been outdoors for a month and suffered the injustices of a post-Splasher street life. Here in a Levi’s-sponsored party house with human-size spraycan sculptures on the floor, and a band schedule taped to the walls, Mr. Brainwash sabotaging his own shit hardly seems like grandiose art-theory discourse and more like those already-torn jeans at Urban Outfitters. It’s also kind of like leaving nasty comments on your own blog, signed by you. I can’t decide if it’s brilliant or desperate or both.