After waiting 3 hours in front of the ticket office…
After hoping that somebody would not come to buy their reserved tickets…
After getting the tickets and waiting until the line finally progresses into the cinema…
Was Exit through the gift shop worth it?
Exit through the gift shop tells the story of Thierry Guetta, a man who became obsessed with taping everything in his life with his camera. When he spends some time with his cousin, who is the street artist known as Space Invader (his artworks features images from the arcade classic) Thierry starts to document the life of street artists, convinced that making a movie about this is what he is supposed to do.
Through a fortunate chain of events he gets in contact with the mysterious street artist legend Banksy, who allows Guetta – for the first time -to tape him while he was working. What starts as a documentary about street art and trying to get in contact with Banksy soon turns around as Banksy makes the documentary all about Guetta and how Guetta tries to become an artist.
Exit through the gift shop is only 86 minutes long, which at first doesn’t sound that long, but rest assured, with this “directorial debut” Banksy doesn’t waste a single minute. Everything is pitch perfect in place, there are no downtimes, not once was there a sequence that was not engaging, be it because it was an interesting depiction of street artists or because it was a great critique on the media and how it deals with art.
It is not until the final 30 minutes when the documentary turns into a deconstruction of how art (or no art) can be hyped up and how the greed for profit diminishes the artistic intentions.
The documentary raises the questions that will never go away when it comes to any form of art:
Is art separated from the artist?
Is the story behind the artworks creation of similar importance as the work itself?
If someone copies the style of another artist for financial gain is it art?
Or to ask trickier: How much does our knowledge influence our judgement?
When people in the movie see Thierry’s art exhibition and marvel at the sculptures and paintings I was wondering: how would I have reacted if I hadn’t seen the back story? If one had just dumped me into this gallery.
I guess I probably would have liked what I would have seen – mostly due to my ignorance of the originals that are out there – maybe I would have patted myself on the back for watching something intellectual and congratulated myself for seeing some “serious art”.
Art is a subjective term and if a gallery like this would have inspired people, would that be similar to what artists like Banksy do?
Or the other way round: if we know about the background are we less willing to appreciate a work of art?
Exit through the gift shop managed to evoke all these questions in me and I still can’t stop pondering about it.
This is probably the best movie going experience I’ve had this year. A documentary, that entertaining, funny, yet insightful and mind-opening is a very rare thing.
The way this movie is edited, how Banksy is utilizing specific sequences from home-videos to reflect on either the previous scene or the on-going theme that will be dealt with in the next 10-15 minutes is marvellous. His snappy comments had the audience in the cinema laugh out loud way too often to count and the unintentional satirical comments of Guetta (a.k.a Mr. Brainwash) will make you burst into laughter while at the same time tear your hair out over it’s naïve towards downright idiotic view of street art.
The movie while obviously biased never becomes preachy or one dimensional, it demands from the audience to think over this artistic dilemma and make up their own mind.
I can’t think of a movie this year I’d more highly recommend, it feels like an eternity that I was so content when the credits rolled and the whole theatre seemed to share my optimism: while it is usually to clap at the end of the movie if it’s part of a film festival, the audience very enthusiastically applauded a total of three times.
I just hope that this was not the last we have seen from Banksy when it comes to movies.
Exit through the gift shop will be available on January 21st on DVD
Or right now via Amazon.co.uk
It will be worth the investment, I vouch for it!
Category: 3 – gold standard
P.S.: Banksy recently reminded us that the Simpsons used to be a political, edgy show that was not afraid to be controversial by creating a sequence bolder than anything the Simpsons have done in recent years