Have you ever heard of Banksy? If not, get outta here! Don’t worry, I’m just joking! For those who don’t know, Banksy is a world renowned street artist. Yet, his identity is completely unknown, with the exception of the few that work with him. If you ever seen any of Banksy’s work, you know how great and talented he is. His work isn’t the messy graffiti you see almost everywhere; each of his artworks have some type of meaning and just is really cool looking. “Exit through the Gift Shop” is a documentary Banksy created. He shows audiences the underground world of professional street artists. Besides that, he shows how incredibly shallow and ridiculous people can be around art.
In “Exit through the Gift Shop,” we follow Thierry Guetta, a regular French guy who loves to video tape everything and I mean EVERYTHING. When he stumbles upon a relative who happens to be Invader, a famous French street artist, he gets drawn into the world of street art. From there he meets Shepard Fairey (the guy who created this popular Obama poster), and Fairey gives him a view of street art in Los Angeles. Thierry travels all over, trying to capture every popular street artist at work, but his main quest is to find Banksy. At last, he finally does. Banksy gives him an unprecedented view of his life and work, without ever showing his face.
Thierry is not the brightest bulb, but he’s a good guy. And Banksy recognizes it and a friendship develops between them. Later on in the film, we see Thierry start to work on becoming a street artist himself. It’s really hard to take Thierry’s art seriously. Basically, he creates a mixture of bad Warhol and bad Banksy. Can this be real? I think it’s important to remember what we know of Banksy’s work. This documentary was created by Banksy, so how do we know it’s not a mockumentary? It can be seen two ways. Is Thierry a fictional character Banksy created so he can make fun of the art world? Or is Thierry a real person/artist? I suppose its up to you to decide.
I hope “Exit through the Gift Shop” gets some recognition this awards season. This documentary is my favorite of 2010. It’s entertaining; the story is rich and funny. Trust me when I say it’s not boring. And like all great documentaries, it makes you think.
Also, check out Banksy’s artwork at his website: http://www.banksy.co.uk/