Exit through the Gift Shop- a Banksy film

Another night, another DVD. I mean, why bother with telly when you can watch something without adverts? That’s not to say there are no interruptions when children at night become yo-yos…

Exit through the Gift Shop could be a documentary on street art, a commentary on the contemporary art world or how people use and exploit the cult of celebrity. It’s probably all of these things.

Essentially it starts with Thierry Guetta, a French vintage-clothing store owner in Los Angeles, who has an obsession with documenting everything with his video camera. A chance meeting with his cousin one night while holidaying in France, leads him to discover street art, or what authorities would call graffiti.

Thierry’s camera obsession becomes focussed on these guerrillas of the art world, who are determined to make their mark in their environment and across the world. He manages to film them under the cover of using the footage for a documentary. His ultimate dream is realised with the filming and befriending of Banksy, an elusive English street artist.

The only problem is, Thierry has no intention of making the documentary, with the tapes thrown into unlabelled tubs. His attempt to bring it together has Banksy deciding to take over the documentary project himself, and gives Thierry the task of creating his own street art. The results of this are hilarious, and at the same time quite disturbing.

It’s thought provoking and had myself and Mr BG talking about it for days afterward. It reminds me of the story of the Emperor’s New Clothes, where everyone believes the hype of celebrity, and doesn’t wish to be seen as uncool by decrying the impostor.

The DVD could have done with subtitles, given the quality of some of the sound and the fact that Banksy’s voice was distorted (you could still hear a tinge of a Bristol/West Country accent), but the extras, such as a background documentary on Banksy and the documentary that Guetta actually composed are excellent.

It’s a fascinating look at an underground culture on the verge of becoming mainstream.

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