Posted: June 16th, 2021

Exit Through the Gift Shop

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Creativity has always pushed the limits in the media and societal culture. In modern society, street art is considered as vandalism, in comparison to the artist(s) and works shown in the film “Exit Through the Gift Shop”, street art is a life-style. It helps the artist convey thoughts and opinions, while abusing the right of staying anonymous. Exit Through the Gift Shop removes that anonymity for every artist, aside from one, Banksy, the filmmaker. Banksy is a notorious street artist that prefers to push the limits of reality and creativity.
He has created and released this film to provide a message about the Main Character, Thierry Guetta, and for others, like him, who believe street art can be created easily. Exit Through the Gift Shop follows a man, Thierry Guetta, who initially lives his life through his camera. After observing street art, he discovers a few artists and begins to obsessively follow them around, recording the ‘making-of’ and the final piece. Along the way, he interviews them about their creations, and what these artists are trying to display.
Throughout this process, Guetta is behind the scope of the lens, as a hidden character should, out of sight and out of mind. With the artist in the spotlight, the audience is provided the images first-hand, along with the artists’ definition. Since Guetta never had plans to use the footage, no one would ever see these images, or creations, other than him. This was a harmless concept, for he would lend a hand when needed, and stayed humble overall.

While observing the street art, Guetta learned different styles, different creations and the actual creative process behind the works of Fairey, Space Invader and Banksy, to then try and apply art of his own. While Guetta works with Banksy, he earns Banksy’s trust, to the point where secrets are shared. From the beginning of the film, Banksy claims that Guetta has no intention to use the film, after weeks of footage being recorded; Banksy puts Guetta’s focus into question and tells him to make a film out of all the acquired footage. From the making of Guetta’s Film, the idea of Mr.
Brainwash was created. At this point, the audience is led to believe that Guetta is trying to get a point across with his creation, although he lacked experience in the creation of film. However, Banksy believes that Guetta still does not have a consistent message that would apply to street art that he wants to share with the world. With Guetta’s opinion, the world is supposed to believe that unique art can be different, as long as it is different in any aspect. Whereas Banksy’s argument is that successful street art is different from any other, while mixing societal culture and propaganda.
Banksy explains to the audience that street art is about the lack of monetary gain, and not for the sake of fame, but for fame of a creative aspect. Mr. Brainwash, does not take on Banksy’s way of display. He simply does the opposite. Every artist shown in the film has a style of creativity that is consistent with his or her character. Away from Banksy and other artists, he combines the styles and trends, the creative aspect from almost every artist he met over throughout the film, Guetta starts making his own art.
After displaying many of his works of art around town, even as the audience could tell, the art was stylized after other artist’s works, even Banksy’s, Guetta holds a show to sell his art for thousands of dollars to those in the media and modern culture who treat these works as art. “He calls himself Mr. Brainwash, and fills an abandoned television studio with sub-Warholian dreck of his own devising. ”(Lane, 2010) Anthony Lane, along with other reviewers believe that the character Guetta, is merely a character, and that someone this, un-talented, would not treat this as real art.
This raises important details in the plot, was Guetta a real character? Is this movie a tale of fiction, or a realistic documentary. Guetta’s art is simplistic in nature, simple to the point in which modern media can understand the symbolism behind each and every detail. Guetta’s art is also detailing older artists work and features that relate specifically to them. As it relates to Banksy’s message, the visitors of the Art show are interviewed about the work they are purchasing and they look at it as new and innovative, they believe that it is different.
Banksy’s use of Guetta’s interview footage is paced well, it shows the difference in the rise of his passionate career, to the money-hungry man he has become. This film is about authenticity and whether certain aspects are real or not, and it is quite metaphorical that the film, overall, might be a mock-umentary, while still retaining certain messages. “about what it means to be a superstar in a subculture built on shunning the mainstream; about how sensibly that culture judges, and monetizes, talent. (Ryzik 2010) Guetta’s lack of comprehending the importance of having a message makes for art that offers only appreciation and a name behind the feature. Opposed to inspiration, Guetta is abusing the influence that artists apply to their works to be different, while only slightly changing theirs, he has attained all that he can from the public, money and appreciation. With this kind of art, the attention is not only drawn to himself, but to the original artist as well. Banksy offers the opinion that art was not meant to be viewed this way, which shows that he completely despises the art industry.
Evidence was shown earlier in the introduction of Banksy placing his own art in a gallery as a mockery towards the actual pieces that were displayed. After listening to Banksy’s perspective, and Guetta’s, the audience is left in a point between both parties. Everyone that has seen this film raises the question on whether the entire production was merely to push the same message that Banksy explains throughout the film, that art should be shared and exchanged without profit.
However, with the lack of a director, or a writer, “Exit Through the Gift Shop” is exactly the opposite. Banksy’s title is plastered on it, this shows that not only is he approving the fact that this film should be released, it also proves that he didn’t care about all the works done by other artists of the film, while showing them off, unless most of them got a couple bucks to show some art. What Banksy is trying to prove with this idea, and what he is shown trying to teach to Guetta, is basically not to be a sell-out.
The artistic work that you do passionately, which you share with society, should be free. It should be to provide the world or the media with insight. A look from a different perspective, or showing the bigger picture. I agree that Banksy does this with his art, and with the film, together this unifies his style. He pushes the limits, and even as we question the authenticity of the film, we are re-viewing, and discussing parts, sharing and making notes, it has become exactly what he wanted, if better.
As far as Guetta’s character goes, he is merely just a reflection of our society, he records video for the sake of recording, he ditches his family life to do something he claims is passionate to him, and in the end, ends up selling works of art for thousands of dollars, reflecting nothing that the other artists taught him in the film. References: Lane, A. (2010, Apr 26). Street justice. Retrieved from http://www. newyorker. com/arts/critics/cinema/2010/04/26/100426crci_cinema_lane RYZIK, M. (2010, April 13). Ny times. Retrieved from http://www. nytimes. om/2010/04/14/movies/14banksy. html Cushing, H. , D’Cruz, J and Gay-Rees, J. (2010)Banksy(Director) “Exit Through the Gift Shop” (Motion Picture). United Kingdom. Acknowledgements: Lab Class – I’d like to thank everyone that I was grouped with in lab for help with finding a few sources, and an overall discussion about the topics of the paper. Peer Editor – I’d like to thank you for reviewing and editing my work ahead of time, offering me changes and correcting small errors.

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