Plagiarism is defined as the close imitation or purloining and publication of another authors work, ideas or expressions and representing them as your own. Intertextuality is defined as the shaping of one text’s meaning through other texts, either through referencing or by borrowing and transforming that work into something different.






But looking at the two definitions, how far apart are plagiarism and intertextuality really. In a post-modern age so much media in all it’s forms are a hybrid or pastiche of what has been before, with frankenstein like efficiency, media is chopped up from all era’s and blended together to make something new, while paying homage to the narrative which informed it. In Issue 24 of one small seed – out now! – we chat to Mr Brainwash, the man who refers to himself as ‘Banksy’s greatest work of art’… But how original is his art, or is it ‘art’ at all?


Andy Warhol started the pop art scene in the 1960’s, with his factory and screen print process, a leading figure in the visual art movement, he was best known for his paintings of iconic american products, the campbells soup cans, coca-cola and iconic celebrities of the time, Marilyn Monroe and Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson. Even though he was attacked for capitulating to consumerism, pop art asked what is art, who decides what art is, Warhol painted soup cans and openly embraced the market culture, courting the rich and famous and gaining commissions for their portraits.

Fourty years later we have Mr Brainwash, a pseudonym for Thierry Guetta, his art of choice involves stencils and silk screens of well known icons in the pop art style used by Warhol. How far can intertextuality and pastiche or parody go before they become plagiarism? The hyperconsciousness of Mr Brainwash’s art is far from subtle, while all art is linked in the evolution of genre and style and reference the past in a global communication while evolving, where is the line between referencing and property theft drawn? Mr Brainwash commented on Andy Warhol saying, “I think that Warhol would have done the same if he were still alive” .


Another artist Mr Brainwash flatters with imitation is Banksy the popular and controversial graffiti artist out of Bristol. Banksy’s distinctive stenciling style encompasses political and social commentary, satirizing famous artwork, artists and public figures.The stencil style of Banksy is a nod to parisian graffiti artist, Blek le Rat. Unlike Mr Brainwash, Banksy’s graffiti parodies the very people who clamor to buy it. At his inception as a graffiti artist, Banksy was considered a counterculture artist, with his stencils and artworks a scathing commentary on consumerism and politics. But how can you comment on a culture that makes you wealthy, is it wrong to profit from social commentary and profit well? In the age of capitalism and consumerism, counter culture cannot exist for in a post -modern age the boundaries between high and low culture are blurred, and that which is outside the mainstream culture will simply be appropriated by it and become part of it.

And so the cycle continues, from Warhol to Blek le Rat, Banksy and Mr Brainwash, art at it’s finest, retouched, reproduced and referenced or plagiarized. To read the exclusive interview with Mr Brainswash get your copy of one small seed issue 24 out on sale in January and hear his thoughts on his art, Banksy and Andy Warhol.

images: Mr Brainwash