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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

Banksy: Exit Through The Gift Shop

Banksy's documentary 'Exit Through the Gift Shop' touches a deeper subject than the schematics of creating street art, and cuts right into what is the meaning of art.

Written by Amica Lane

I don’t usually cover film in this section, try but after watching Banksy’s documentary ‘Exit Through The Gift Shop’ I felt compelled to write a little something about it. As always, generic Banksy retains his aloof mystique by focusing the documentary away from himself and onto the bizarre Thierry Guetta. To summarize the documentary: One crazy Frenchman, look who according to Banksy ‘looks like a sweaty 18th century lunatic’ is initially obsessed with filming. Filming anything without purpose, he just has a camera with him at all times. His cousin is the street artist ‘Space Invader’ and by chance, Guetta ends up following around a bunch of well-respected street artists, filming their artwork under the guise of making a documentary (that didn’t exist) until he collides with his idol, Banksy. After an amusing stunt at Disneyland goes awry, Guetta ends up with the trust and friendship of the illusive art anarchist, and actually begins to film something resembling a documentary. After handing Banksy an indecipherable ‘nightmare’ of a film, Banksy realizes that Guetta may be ‘a mentally ill person with a camera’ and decides to use the footage to make his own film. To distract Guetta from film making, he gently suggests that the enthusiastic French maniac should go home and maybe do a little exhibition of his own (poor) artwork. The result is pure cinematic comedy; Guetta, hyped up on power from his relationship with Banksy launches a massive scale exhibition that spans a whole warehouse and is filled with hundreds of cliché and rubbish artworks. He gets a little publicity from his famous friends, and the result is 4,000 patrons queuing up for his exhibition, the front cover of LA Weekly and over a million dollars worth of art being sold. The documentary explores how the most mediocre of artists can become famous and collectable based entirely on the power of hype, something that Banksy deplores. “I used to encourage everyone to do art. I don’t do that anymore.” He muses at the end of the film sadly, as Guetta dons a pair of sunglasses and declares that he is ‘equal to Banksy now’.

In after thought, the questions ‘Exit Through the Gift Shop’ raise are poignant and interesting. How much of art, is simply bollocks? With the genre of art being expanded to include, well, everything, what IS art? From Hirst to Emin to Banksy, art has proven to include literally everything. But if everything has meaning as art, then does that mean that art is now truly meaningless? This is a topic again explored by Banksy in the film. ‘Warhol repeated iconic images to show that they’re meaningless….and Mr Brainwash (Guetta) has just made them truly meaningless.’ In summary, the documentary is brilliant, funny and thought provoking. Much like Banksy himself. Exit Through the Gift Shop will be showing at the Curzon Soho until Friday, show times are at 2.05pm and 9.10pm

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