From May 26, 2012
Wednesday and Friday I showed my classes “Exit Through The Gift Shop”. I’d heard about it before from Andy Williams, who had shown it to his classes last year. My colleague at WHS also showed it to her classes.
While the film is “directed by Banksy”, the footage is by a guy named Thierry Guetta, who followed his cousin “Invader” (an LA street artist) around with a video camera, documenting everything he did. Later, Thierry met Shepard Fairey (of OBEY and the Obama HOPE poster fame) and Banksy (famous British street artist). The film follows the hijinks of all these street artists, even to Disneyland in Sept 2006 where Banksy pulled a stunt.
The film continues to the point where Banksy tells his good friend Thierry to cut all his film (at least 10 years worth it looked like) into a film about street art. Thierry comes back to Banksy 6 months later with a crazy mishmash of a film that Banksy describes as “shit” saying that he realized then that his friend Thierry was not a filmmaker, but was perhaps just a crazy person with a video camera. Banksy tells Thierry to go back to LA, make some of his own art, and hold a little show.
So Thierry goes back to America, basically copies Banksy and other’s style and opens his own art show. With the help of testimonials from both Fairey and Banksy, Thierry’s art show gets LA Weekly fame. “Thousands” of people go to Thierry’s show, although they know him by his new moniker: Mr. Brainwash. Thierry ends up supposedly selling over $1 million worth of paintings, much to the chagrin of Fairey and Banksy.
Overall, I think the film was very well-done, although I truly question the validity of it all. I have a hunch that while Banksy’s voice is changed to hide “his” identity, the narrator sounds suspiciously like Banksy. I have a personal theory that Banksy is a team of people, as opposed to just one person/man. As such, the guy interviewed as Banksy in the film is probably not the real deal. Is Thierry actually Banksy? Thierry’s work is either identical to Banksy’s because it IS his, or it’s a complete knock-off… or this was all done just to sell a film by Team Banksy. Who knows? I don’t. Regardless, it’s a very interesting and entertaining film. I recommend it, although whatever information you glean from it about Banksy or Thierry I’d take with a grain of salt.