Review: Exit Through The Gift Shop

Source: AM

Good art breaks rules and some of the best art right now breaks laws. I love telling my students about street artist (now HUGE contemporary art figure) Banksy. Then I immediately have to have that conversation explaining why they shouldn't try what he does at home...at least not until after high school when I can't be connected to their criminal leanings. So when I saw the 2010 documentary, Exit Through The Gift Shop out on Netflix I knew I had to see it.

I loved this film not only because it let me peek into the process of the world's leading and most elusive street artist, but because it was not really about him at all. The film, directed by Banksy, is a documentary about Thierry Guetta, a French/Californian amatuer filmmaker trying to document Bansky. Guetta's compulsive videotaping of Bansky and several other big name street artists, including Space Invader and Shepard Fairey, and his mediocre end product, somehow lead to his own meteoric rise as the street artist(?) Mr. Brainwash. There is a sense throughout the film that Banksy is giving you something 100% serious and playing a joke on you at the same time. Reviewers have been left wondering if it's a stunt. Maybe...but in today's art world it's also plausible that this is the real deal.

The film addresses the arguments of what an artist is, what copying is and what fame is in the vein of Duchamp's Fountain or Andy Warhol's Brillo Boxes. That's a conversation I always love having in my high school classes. Was Guetta really a filmmaker? Is Mr. Brainwash really a great artist? Like Guetta puts it in the filim, "It's about time. We'll see in time who are worthy. Cos with time you'll see my creativity. You'll see if I'm a real artist or not".

Wow....that is so....convenient.

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