(Con)Artistic Strategies for How to Succeed in the Art Market
Orson Welles’ "F for Fake" and Banksy’s "Exit through the Gift shop"
In today’s fast-paced art market environment, uncertainty is rampant as to whether works of art are of lasting value, especially contemporary ones. In popular imagination, this gives rise to the fear that many an artist could be nothing more than an impostor who is primarily interested in enriching himself. Within cultural representation, so the artist’s "authenticity“ and "originality” become the most important resources for building trust. The examination of Orson Welles‘ F for Fake and Banksy’s Exit through the Gift Shop shows how artists articulate their own authenticity, originality credibility, and thus their trustworthiness – and how they distinguish themselves to counterfeiters, impostors, and fraudsters. Furthermore, it becomes obvious that both artists and impostors – at least as they’re represented – (have to) use similar strategies in order to be successful. Both films also reveal tectonic changes in the art market from the 1970s until today: whereas in the past market access used to be achieved exclusively via experts and specialists who had to be convinced or deceived by means of outstanding craftmanship, their influence on the contemporary art market now appears to have diminished. Instead, the purposeful generation of attention through spectacle, the intelligent utilization of social relationships to key figures and the skilful manipulation of the media have become indispensable. This results in the fact that art forgers now can sell their own “original” and “authentic” forgeries at notable prices.