Exit through the Gift Shop – A Banksy Film   Leave a comment

The Bad artists imitate, the great artists steal – Banksy

Exit through the gift shop, billed as ‘the world’s first street art disaster movie’ is a documentary directed by Banksy, who is a graffiti artist, painter, political activist. Banksy keeps his identity unknown and his voice altered throughout the movie. The film is about famous street artists, how the street art evolved and how Thierry Guetta became a millionaire just by selling pieces of pop art which are full of contemptible nonsense.

Thierry Guetta is a French immigrant, owns a clothing store in Los Angeles; he gets vintage clothes cheaply and resells them for exorbitant prices to hipsters, has very unusual hobby: Carries a camera 24X7 and films anything and everything that is around. He meets his cousin Space Invader who is a street artist and becomes fascinated with the street art and spends years filming the art and its creators. Guetta now with all the videos that he has filmed wants to make a documentary on Street Art!

Guetta films virtually every street artists work except Banksy. Banksy, a street art deity, a global celebrity following his controversial paintings on the West Bank and by withholding his identity has become the world’s most fascinating artist. Guetta eventually meets the phantom who surprisingly allows him to film his work and also his studio in London.

Banksy now presents a three day vandalised warehouse extravaganza called ‘Barely Legal’ in LA and after the event to his surprise street art prices go up! Sotheby’s auction house in London auctions three of his works for exuberant prices and Banksy updates on his website: “I Can’t Believe You Morons actually buy this Shit.” :P

Banksy asks Guetta to complete the documentary; Guetta comes up with 90 min film called ‘Life Remote Control’. After watching Guetta’s footage on street art, Banksy says  “I didn’t know if I believed he was a filmmaker or a mental patient with a camera.” ;) So, Banksy decides to take over the documentary himself, advices Guetta to Stop Filmmaking and concentrate on becoming a Street Artist and also tells him to come up with his own Art Show!

Guetta wants to go big. He wants to be the next Banksy ;) He names himself Mr.Brainwash because he realizes that all art is brainwash :P and also explains , ‘Life is like a game of chess. I don’t know how to play chess. But life is like a chess game to me…’ :D so he decides to put a show in LA and hires people to create art under his super-vision :) and with publicity from Banksy and Shepard Fairey he successfully conducts the show ‘Life is Beautiful’ and sells cheap art for millions. The show goes on for three months! Thierry Guetta becomes god of street art ! And even Madonna hires Mr. Brainwash to create the cover for her 2009 celebration album!

Banksy and Shepard Fairey are really amazed to see Mr.Brainwash’s unprecedented success. Banksy ponders: “Maybe it means art is a bit of a joke.” Maybe not. In either case, go out and make some and if you cannot, go out and buy some. It’s all good, ain’t it?. And in the end he says “I used to tell everyone to go off and make art.. I don’t do that anymore…”

Shepard fairy exclaims: “I do think that the whole phenomenon of Thierry’s obsession with street art, becoming a street artist, a lot of suckers buying into his show and him selling a lot of expensive art very quickly – it’s anthropologically, sociologically… It’s a fascinating thing to observe, and maybe there’s some things to be learned from it.”

After watching this documentary I laughed really hard and also there were lot of questions sprouting up like, what is art? What is expensive art? Does expensive art influence so much that you loose your own thinking? How is it valued? What makes it so special? If expensive art is created by manipulating and hiring people to make art for you, art that copies the styles of other artists, then the standard by which we define art has been lowered. Mr. Brainwash becomes right: art is brainwash. PSEUDO is the word.. and the current trend is People take art seriously without really understanding it, without any head of their own. It is like appreciating pasta/pizza/burger even after eating MTR Masala Dosa.

There is also a widespread speculation that this might be another Banksy’s pank, a very expensive joke ! to which Banksy asserts  “Ordinarily I wouldn’t mind if people believe me or not, but the film’s power comes from the fact it’s all 100% true. This is from the frontline, this is watching an art form self-combust in front of you. Told by the people involved. In real time. This is a very real film about what it means to ‘keep it real’.”

“Making a film isn’t as much fun as it looks. I spent a year … watching footage of sweaty vandals falling off ladders and If I make another film it’ll be called something like ‘Kate Moss Undressing’ and maybe then I’d take more interest in the camera angles.” :D


In the end, after all the drama, Banksy’s former spokesman Steve Lazarides states: “I think the joke is on… I don’t know who the joke is on, really. I don’t even know if there is a joke.” and after watching Exit through the gift shop I feel the same way too… :=)

Further Reading:

http://nomorepopcorn.wordpress.com/2011/02/02/the-non-fiction-section-exit-through-the-gift-shop/

http://libcom.org/blog/exit-through-gift-shop-banksy-film-11052010

http://edendale.typepad.com/weblog/2010/12/banksy-yes-banksy-on-thierry-exit-skepticism-documentary-filmmaking-as-punk.html

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