Monday, April 19, 2010
Banksy Pranksy : Exit Though the Gift Shop
Banksy, the wildly talented street artist, prankster, and social critic infamous for completely shielding his true identity from the world, has released his first movie "Exit Though the Gift Shop". Filmed as a documentary... and described as the world's first Street Art disaster film, this is an incredibly engaging mind game centering on the world of street art and graffiti.
The movie features street footage of Space Invader, Shepard Fairey, Neckface, Swoon, Banksy, Cheez, Borf, and Coma all making art and tagging the world with their unique visions. For this alone "Exit" is worth the price of admission.
But Banksy has a lot up his sleeve. This is a disaster film, and the disaster is the conflict between truth, fiction, and banksy pranks. The film is a multilevel documentary mostly centering on Thierry Guetta, a french clothing store owner, living in Los Angeles, who is a compulsive videographer obsessed with filming the world of street art. As Banksy puts it the movie ended up becoming a film about Thierry Guetta, because he was "more interesting than I [banksy] am".
The movie, mostly told though interviews with the incredibly engaging and energetic Guetta, leaves one's head spinning. There's so much that is true here. A previously unseen world of archival footage of artists engaged in their guerrilla activities. And each and every event described in the movie has actually appears to have happened. But how did it all happen and what is the reality behind the movie.
The key questions are in regards to Thierry Guetta, who ultimately transforms into a street artist of significant success named MBW, Mister Brain Wash. There's a back story here we can only guess at, and the guessing and questioning after the film keeps one engaged days after viewing. Even once you are sure you have figured out all the layers of this film, you are left with questions and uncertainty. A mystery wrapped in an enigma, and a fascinating tightly edited film that is as funny, intriguing, and engaging as anything Banksy has every created. There are a lot of theories about what this movie is.
As far as I'm concerned it's probably the most amazing prank and the most elaborate attack on the commodification of art that has ever been made. See it while you can in its limited US release.
The trailer and extended sneak preview should give you a sense of what lies before you.