Exit Through the Gift Shop (2010)

[Viennale.]

Exit Through the Gift Shop is Banksy‘s first film project. It’s a kind of documentary, narrated by Rhys Ifans and featuring Thierry Guetta, Shepard Fairey, Space Invader and many more street artists.

Plot:
Thierry Guetta is a French emigrant living in the US. He’s obsessed with filming everything and through his cousin – who happens to be Space Invader – gets into the street art scene. He starts meeting all the big street artists and follows them around for a while with his camera. And one day, he even gets in touch with Banksy. But Banksy finds Thierry the more intriguing subject of a film.

I loved Exit Through the Gift Shop. You get to see loads of good art, it’s totally funny, extremely intelligent and afterwards you can speculate with your friends about which parts of it are real.

Exit Through the Gift Shop can be neatly divided into two halves:

Thierry Guetta, following the street artists around, was the perfect guy to show the “classic” picture of street art; the danger, the nightly excursions, the police, the DIY attitude, the community – in short, everything you think street art is. After the turn in the middle of the film, when Banksy starts to make a movie about Thierry Guetta instead of the other way round, it gave you quite another picture of the street art scene: the commercialisation and the hype.

It’s interesting to see these two halves contrasted and partly reconciled and partly not. And it’s nice to see that they chose to make fun of both sides of the story.

Generally, there is pretty much nobody who is not being made fun of. And that’s usually a good thing.

I don’t know how much of this is true and how much isn’t (though my guess is a lot of it is true) and I have to say that I don’t really care. The story is too good not to tell it either way. [Oh, and btw Rhys Ifans really does a good job telling it.]

It’s an intelligent look at the creation, perception and reception of art – and in accessible form. Which is awesome and admirable and as great as all the other things Banksy made.

Summarising: Definite Must-See.

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