March 11th: Exit Through the Gift Shop

exit-through-the-gift-shop-banksy-poster-1

Release Date: 2010
Director: Banksy
Why I picked this: Started this a while ago, never finished. Also, Banksy!

This is an intriguing and thought-provoking look at the misunderstood street art culture around the world, coming from probably the most famous street artist Banksy. Interestingly enough, the documentary isn’t about Banksy himself, rather focusing on the “more interesting” figure (according to Banksy) of Thierry Guetta, a French immigrant who finds himself immersed in this street art culture. Guetta is shown to carry a video camera where he goes, essentially filming his entire life. A faithful turn of events leads Guetta to start following and documenting the work of street artists, the two most prominent being Shepard Fairey, best known in pop culture for designing the famous Obama “Hope” poster, and Banksy himself. Guetta’s obsession with street art grows big enough that he becomes a street artist himself, adopting the persona of “Mr. Brainwash.” In short time, he produces a large quantity of art pieces, but these are directly made by artists, designers, and craftsment hired by Guetta, who only comes up with the ideas of these pieces. The climax of the movie involves his first major art show, with the crux being whether or not it will be a success or not. To further analyze this film, I feel I must break protocol and spoil this aspect of the documentary; he succeeds. This film examines art and what art really is; what makes street art true art, and is what Guetta did really art? What I love about documentaries is that they let the audience decide what they want from viewing footage; from my perspective, I felt that Guetta had a very limited understanding of art, and mostly sought out to attempt others. And yet he was successful. Did he deserve this? Fairey and Banksy are both shown to be visibly baffled and confused on his success. This movie also touches upon issues regarding consumerism; why are street art pieces sold, and at such high prices? Is it really anyone’s right to own these pieces? These are questions that can only be thought upon after watching this film; those especially interested or involved in art will definitely have strong reactions. The documentary is very well edited, which I image was difficult, as Guetta had thousands of video cassettes. What is in this movie is probably a small fraction of what Guetta shot, but it is a very good selection. There are many humorous moments throughout the film, mostly from spoken recollections of the subjects of amusing moments or clips of Guetta or Fairey falling or screwing up while working on their pieces. This movie requires a lot of thought, as it is unclear on what Banksy’s true message about art is.

Well edited and funny, this look at street art, consumerism, and art in general is guaranteed to stir thoughts and emotions from viewers, especially those who love art.

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