Imagine that you are a struggling artist-or worse yet, a struggling street artist. Not only is your art generally not worth much, but it is a crime to make it and someone doing Community Service will be along shorty to cover it up. But all is not that bad, a handful of street artists are being taken seriously, chief among them a man known as Banksy.
Exit Through The Gift Shop is the story of a handful of graffiti artists who have taken the art of defacing private and public property to a new level. Not content with plain old spray paint, they use giant posters, much in the style of application as an old fashioned billboard. Some of these people do very interesting, if very repetitive work.
Enter our Hero, Thierry Guetta, a slightly insane Frenchman who has video taped his every waking moment for the better part of his life. While out one day, he runs across a Street Artist and starts to follow him around. He says that he is making a documentary about Street Art. Before too long, he has filmed all of the major players in the Street Art world, all but one-Banksy.
Banksy finds himself in Thierry Guetta’s home turf of LA and they get together for several days of art creation in the dead of night. As it turns out, Thierry is not making a documentary and he never even watches the endless hours of video he has recorded. When pressed to put his movie together by Banksy, he spends six months creating an hour and half long collection of ten second film clips spliced together. Banksy is so disgusted by this that he tells Thrierry, who has taken up a bit of Street Art himself, go make some art and have a little show while he puts the film together himself.
Here the story is completely taken over by the mad Frenchman as he has hired people to bang out knock-off Warhols, Lichtensteins, and Rosenquists-along with every other pop artist who ever lived. At one point we see his team of Photoshop wizards cranking out his ‘art.’
The funny bit is that he books a giant space to have an art show-and he gets Banksy and other street artists who had befriended him when they thought he was making a documentary, to promote the show.
In the end, the Life is Beautiful Exhibition rakes in over a million dollars and we are left wondering-what the fuck? but in a good way. Thierry now goes by the street artist name Mr Brainwash and many of his fellow street artists are not all that happy with him. The fact that Mr Brainwash’s art looks a lot like their art might have something to do with that. Or maybe it is just plain jealousy that someone who is clearly not an artist is doing so much better at the self promotion needed to succeed as an artist.
Exit Through The Giftshop is filled with funny bits and I laughed out loud several times at the sheer absurdity of it all. There have been rumors that Mr Brainwash doesn’t exist, that he is merely Banksy being Banksy. But Thierry Guetta is the one being sued by photographer Glen E. Friedman for one of the countless acts of copyright infringed Mr Brainwash commits to create ‘his’ works of art. MBW lost the case.
I loved Exit Through the Gift Shop. You really need to watch this one.