“Exit Through The Gift Shop”–a Magnificent Gag!

Posted: December 16, 2010 in Uncategorized

Exit Through The Gift Shop is possible mockumentary by uber street artist Banksy.

Banksy burst onto the scene in the early 1990’s following in the foot steps of early graffiti artists Blek le Rat and Crass. He hit about the same time as Shepard Fairy (famed for the Obama Hope/Change print).  For years Banksy was a hit-and-run artist who stenciled at night running from the police and making little or no money from his art.  Within the last 10 years, however, Banksy, along with Fairy, Ron English & others, shot to fame thanks to the internet, pirated tees on Cafe Press, etc.

In the excellent documentary Exit Through the Gift Shop, Banksy’s art is displayed in Hollywood for Jude Law & Brangelina.  Banksy’s piece sell at auctions for upwards of $500,000.  Meanwhile, Shepard Fairy has gone from evading arrest to launching his own clothing line “Obey.”  It has all gone very upscale…and while he is raking in the cash, you get the feeling that there is a part of Bansky that feels a little creeped out by it.

Enter Exit Through The Gift Shop, a supposed documentary about  Thierry Guetta.  Guetta was a Venice, California vintage clothing store owner who had the unusual habit of filming every moment of his life until he became obsessed with street art and began to film artists like Fairy and “Space Invader.”  The reclusive artists agreed to allow Guetta to film them on the understanding that he was making a serious documentary about graffiti art…he wasn’t…he was just bored and liked to film every moment of his life.

Eventually, Guetta supposedly meets Banksy, the most reclusive street artist of them all.  When Banksy demands to see Guetta’s documentary, he is forced to produce something and it is a piece of crap. 

Banksy then decides to man the camera himself and turn Guetta into an artist complete with a huge opening show with buzz generated by the L.A. art mags.  Hundreds of people show up for Guetta’s show and he earns approximately a million dolars from his shows…the only problem is that Guetta’s art is shallow, derivative crud.  The same celebrities and rich kids who paid through the nose to buy Banksy’s brilliant pieces now paid a small fortune for Guetta’s “art” which is really the equivalent of the portrait of dogs playing poker.  

Banksy ends the documentary with the line “art is a bit of a joke.”  It seems his “documentary” is really a brilliant gag…but who is the butt of the joke?

Anyway, even if you’re not an avid street artist fan like me, Exit Through The Gift Ship is one of the best films of the year and it’s out on DVD now.

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