“Exit Through The Gift Shop” Magnifies and Mocks

Megan Foy, Assistant Editor

Scaling buildings by night and stunning pedestrians by day, artists and audiences alike are in for the thrill of street art presented in “Exit Through The Gift Shop.” Banksy, graffiti artist with jaw-dropping tactics, directed this film not to showcase his work but to portray the rapidly changing street art movement along with the artists behind the quirky pieces.

“Exit Through The Gift Shop” had little to do with Banksy and instead focused on a French filmaker Thierry Guetta in Los Angeles who gets caught in the whirlwind of street art. Beginning by filming his cousin, street artist “Invader,” Guetta captured artists creating pieces that elevated them to fame such as Shepard Fairey’s signature art, OBEY. For the first half of the film, Banksy remains incognito which leaves the audience craving a glimpse of the artist that attracted graffiti-lovers to the film, not the filmaker with broken English.

After four years of gathering film, Guetta finally met the street artist, Banksy, who rose to national fame for his provactive stunts. A voice modulator and blacked-out face maintained Banksy’s low-profile but doesn’t conceal his witty criticism of the aimless filmaker. Even though a documentary maintains a serious tone, the film, surprisingly enough, has humor that provokes audiences to laugh out loud.

Guetta traded his film identity for a street art name, Mr. Brainwash. It becomes apparent that Mr. Brainwash lacks creativity in his own graffiti pieces and only knows how to recreate Banksy’s work with a confused pop-art twist. Nevertheless, Mr. Brainwash receives public acclaim from a Los Angeles fanbase that is more likely to attend a gallery of urban art than actually search alleys for genuine street art.

As selfless as art can be, selling street art for thousands of dollars is a little ironic. Despite the limelight, graffiti artists would prefer to be underground instead of glorified by the public- a common theme for artists that would prefer to have a small fan base than mainstream.

With the actual artists aside, the political or witty messages on concrete mediums continues to shake up the world and art scene. The film’s purpose was to capture the controversial and fleeting art form before it is painted over for city “beautification.”