Exit Through the Gift Shop: Film Analysis

Ok, so I’m sure some others have also done this film as we all recently watched it, but I’m not very clued in with ‘art film’ and of what I have seen, this is something I LOVED! It’s a docu[mocu]mentary that is supposed to be about the undercover street artist Banksy, but in actual fact it has been turned around by Banksy and made into a film about a man called Thierry, a highly eccentric French cam-corder enthusiast. He is obsessed by filming everything he sees and everything he does and by a set of very luck chances and breaks he manages to get himself caught up in the then emerging world of street art. He slavishly follows his cousin, the infamous ‘space invader’, getting deeper and deeper into the world and the people surrounding street art. Eventually, via another lucky break, he is hooked up with the crowning jewel of street art himself, Banksy. The consequences of the friendship that ensues is an exhibition by ‘Mr.Brainwash’, Thierry’s street art alter ego, in which he fills an L.A warehouse with his ‘collection’. It is received with applause, with viewers clamouring to hand over their money for any piece of work.

Clever and witty, this film comments on the futility of the current art market. If people are told something is good, they will believe it is, and with the right endorsement, any average [or in this case insane] Joe can make millions. It is also a comment on late capitalism and the consumer side of the art market and it questions the original ethics of the street art movement. It was about creating temporary art work, underground, sometimes illegal, not bright and garish and duplicated again and again. It is a statement as much as it is art work. Weather this film is real and the character of ‘Thierry’ is real or not is questionable. Is Banksy using this film to further his mystery? And what is his comment trying to achieve? For surely he is part of the art market now? He and his work are a commodity. To me, the real motive of this film is unclear, but I think its great anyway!

Marianne Slater

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