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Exit Through the Gift Shop

Exit Through The Gift Shop

On the surface this film is about Frenchman Thierry Guetta's obsession with videoing his life and how he gets in with a French graffitti artist, and from that goes to the US and films all kinds of street artists at work. His aim is to meet the elusive Bristol artist Banksy. He tells people he's making a documentary but really his thousands of hours of non stop videos are cast aside, bound together with elastic bands and chucked into storage boxes. When he eventually meets Banksy he introduces himself as a guide to LA for the visitor, finding him blank walls to work on. Pressed about where his completed film is, he makes one which is such a jittery mess Banksy suggests he has a go at street art himself. From here Guetta reinvents himself as Mr BrainWash and goes on to bigger and bigger (note I didn't say better) creations. Banksy takes charge of the video tapes and from them produces this film Exit Through the Gift Shop.

Straightforward? hell no, this is a spoof, a pisstake, but just how far are we being jerked around as an audience? Is Guetta for real or is he a icon of how gullible the public can be when someone is hyped to the max? Banksy appear in the film in shadows, hooded and with his voice electronically altered. Interestingly, he's always kept deliberately elusive, even when journalists try to out him, his audience somehow conspire to ignore whatever they write. Could Banksy even be Guetta, I mean the guy that creates Guetta's derivative art? Wouldn't surprise me as the world of street art by defination is underworld and sometimes self mocking.

Who knows and who really cares?
I know I stood in a queue for three hours in the summer to see Banksy's show at the Bristol Museum, and Bristolians seem to have taken him to their heart. 97% of Bristolians voted to keep this piece of graffitti art on a local building and the council even paid to have paint removed from it when it was vandalised. Now Bristol seems to have taken street art to it's heart and the council don't remove pieces of work that look to have some kind of artistic value.

Are we all being taken in or has Banksy sold out? Who is having the last laugh? He stays anonymous, but his artwork is commanding huge fees at art auctions, yet he seems to stay street.
Whatever your thoughts there's no doubt that he's produced a well made, entertaining and very funny film. It's also interesting to see artists at work late at night, how the large stencils are done and just how dangerous some of the situations are.

More images : http://www.banksy.co.uk/