Thoughts on ‘Exit Through The Gift Shop’ by Banksy, The World’s MostFamous Graffiti Artist

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  • Post last modified:May 6, 2021
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So I finally got around to watching the acclaimed Banksy documentarymockumentaryprankumentary… What in the fuck is this film?

Exit Through the Gift Shop is famous graffiti artist Banksy's first feature length film

The idea is that Thierry Guetta — an obsessive compulsive videographer — stumbles his way into filming an otherwise secretive nightlife of the street art scene.

Some big names (Shepard Fairey [OBEY], Banksy, and Thierry’s cousin Invader to name a few) deem it responsible to make an otherwise temporary artform (street art) eternal by documenting the process.

Falsely positioning himself as making a Street Art documentary, Thierry gains the artists’ respect and trust.

thierry guetta from exit through the gift shop

If you’ve followed the plot this far, Thierry certainly has a knack for attracting those needed to make a successful street art documentary.

To his defence, Thierry does attempt to create the Street Art documentary, the problem is that he has never created a film despite having tens of thousands of hours of raw footage.

Banksy deems Thierry’s final product “unwatchable” and decides to take a swing at creating his own documentary with Thierry’s footage.

As a distraction, Banksy encourages Thierry to create his own art show, which Thierry is excited about — and off he runs to follow in his idols’ footsteps.

He mimics what he’s learned from OBEY (Fairey) and Banksy and creates a large-scale art show, hiring people to define art concepts which he tweaks and then makes a final decision on what will be produced — his ‘art’, for lack of a better definition.

The result? Incredibly borrowed/inspired concepts, repetitive-to-death themes, and generally uninspiring work. Here’s the catch… The show sells over a million dollars worth of his art.

Thierry (now under the pseudonym of Mr. BrainWash) has proven that his art has a home, if only by way of buzz, hype, or art collectors’ need to feel included in the newest of new.

Banksy makes an appearance in his documentary film Exit Through the Gift Shop

Now that we’re all up to speed — what’s my take?

Well, for starters I don’t believe Banksy would include himself in something as characterless as a Street Art documentary, so from the jump I was hesitant to watch it, and hesitant to believe anything I was watching after I did get around to watching it.

I am confident in Banksy’s adherence to making a statement. He’s seen street art — a voice of the under-privileged — change from being remarkably unaccepted to being remarkably accepted. Paraphrasing my good friend Adam Chilton:

The art form has been commodified to a point that anyone can make it big if they copy what’s already out there.

Adam Chilton

He’s seeing it happen before his eyes: Take a stencil, spray it onto a canvas, call it art, sell — rinse and repeat. The merit of the street art scene has been perverted into a money-making trend and people are in it for the wrong reasons.

So he props up a nobody to make generic, uninspired, passionless, outsourced, Photoshop quasi-art garbage and pulls the wool over the public’s eyes — as if to say, “Okay motherfuckers — you wanna play dollars-and-cents in an anti-consumption art model? Let’s play…”

A final word, if I may: Go see the film.

It’s great and shows a side of society not many people are privvy to, nor have the stomach for. Thierry’s need to film everything he sees is an interesting subject and the movie is very well put-together.

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