Home > A&E > Exit Through the Gift Shop- documentary or hoax?

Exit Through the Gift Shop- documentary or hoax?

February 24, 2011

By Kyle Huneycutt, A&E Editor

I used to encourage everyone I knew to make art. I don’t do that so much anymore.” These are the closing words of the famous, maybe infamous, Banksy, in his new documentary, Exit Through the Gift Shop. For those of you who do not know what is going on out in the art world (yes, one exists), Banksy is foremost a street artist from England. Now, he may or may not also be a genius film-maker.

Your first impression is you think this film is going to be about Banksy. Instead you are introduced to Thierry Guetta, who is not an artist, and then proceed to learn his life story and how he is obsessed with filming everything that moves. Guetta becomes Banksy’s new shadow, filming him do everything art related. Banksy ends up having an extremely successful show, and he makes a lot of money. He figures now might be a good time for Guetta to make use of the hours of footage he has and make a documentary. Guetta obliges and ends up making the worst documentary ever, resulting in Banksy “encouraging” Guetta to go home and start working on some of his own street art.

Guetta takes Banksy’s request very seriously and starts hiring people to make the art for him. This leads to tons and tons of art that suspiciously looks like the art he has been filming for years.  Guetta starts working on an extremely large art show that ends up having a mind of its own, which leads Guetta to nickname himself “Mr. Brainwash.”

Now there are two options as to what the purpose of this documentary might possibly be. The first option is to view this film literally. It’s about a guy who gets a lucky break. The second option is that Banksy is awesome. I am more inclined to believe the second option. I think, and so do many others, that this entire documentary was a hoax, a piece of art in and of itself. So if you believe that art reflects the artist, then my first impression of this documentary was correct. It is all about Banksy and the message he is trying to drill into our skulls.

The best part of this documentary is that it is so ambiguous, and I think that ambiguity is what truly makes it a piece of art. It is open to interpretation. If anything, it at least opened up many conversations about art on a large scale, which I believe, is always a plus. So with that in mind, watch this movie and try not to think too much. Also, it’s important to remember that with all art, you may not like it, but you can still appreciate it.

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