Saturday, January 22, 2011

Exit Through The Gift Shop

Last night I watched Banksy's, the world famous British street artist, documentary called Exit Through The Gift Shop. At first...well up until the end, the movie made me really happy. It wasn't exactly what I thought, though.

The movie actually starts off talking about this French guy Terry. Right off the bat, I know this guy is a few tacos short of a combo platter, if you catch my drift. He is VERY eccentric and a bit neurotic. You find out that he videos EVERYTHING. And by everything, I mean he does not go anywhere without a video camera.

Soon, he stumbles upon his cousin's art studio. Turns out his cousin is the now extremely famous Space Invader street artist. But when Terry first started filming him, he wasn't famous at all. But soon he became consumed with his cousin's street art career and just street art in general. He even started doing some of his own stuff after a while. He metShepard Fairey (the creater of the OBEY symbol and the designer of Obama's famed campaign sign) and many other famous street artists. It was so cool to see Shepard and other street artists in the act. I felt like I was sharing a secret with them.

As Terry's obsession with street art grew, he obviously heard of Banksy and became determined to meet him. Miraculously, fate ended up bringing the two together. They actually started working together a lot. Banksy, the extremely mysterious artist who keeps his identity a secret, decided to let Terry film because street art has such a short life span and he thought it would be good if it was documented.

When street art was starting to be sold for astronomical prices, Banksy urged Terry to get the documentary out as soon as possible so people could understand that street art wasn't about the money. But when Terry finally came back to Banksy with his finished was shit. Total shit. It was a mess and just completely insane. So Banksy told Terry to go back to L.A. and do some of his art, basically just to get him out his hair while he went over the film and made it presentable and not total crap.

But Banksy had NO idea just how far the eccentric Frenchman was going to take his words. Terry refinanced his house and sold literally everything in order to buy a huge printing studio and a team of graphic designers and artists to work for him. He started making his "art" where he was basically copying every street artist and postmodernism artist that he had seen. Once "he" (I use quotations because he didn't really do crap. He just hired people to make "his" art that he took credit for) had a big enough collection of pieces, he decided to put on an art show. He rented a HUGE venue in L.A. and displayed his 200 prints and sculptures (once again, he didn't do ANY of the pieces aside from maybe flicking some paint on a few of them).

Thanks to some exploitation of Shepard Fairey and Banksy's reputation and good faith, Terry's show began getting some major hype. During the set up of the show, you see how insane he is and that really, he just copied other people's style. And not even that! Because it wasn't even him making the pieces!!

But once the show, Life Is Beautiful, opened, Terry became a phenomenon. Terry ended up selling over a million dollars worth of pieces from his show.

This ^^ is when I really started getting upset. I was upset at Terry and his unwarranted fame, but I was more upset at the gullible people falling for his charade!! People were paying 30,000 dollars for a print of a spray paint can with a Campbell's Soup logo that Terry didn't even do!!

Terry represented the antithesis of what Banksy represents with his art and his humility. And he is the antithesis of how I define an artist. He is someone who exploited other artists around him to create a false hype and reap the massive lucrative benefits of that. I felt that by what he did, he depreciated the meaning of art. I'm sorry, but I do not believe that if someone throw paint on a police car, that makes it art. But that is what people have come to accept, and this makes me really angry.

It also goes to show that just because someone is famous, that doesn't necessarily mean they are talented. It can sometimes be someone who is at the right place at the right time (cough cough Snooki cough Paris Hilton) and who is really good at promoting and hyping themselves. It just amazes me (not in a good way) how much credence people give to people with money or fame and how easily people allow themselves to be duped. They only see what is on the surface and fail to see the truth that is lying not that far beneath it.

The good part about this movie is that it made my respect for Banksy go through the roof. I definitely recommend watching it, if only to see Banksy and his artistic genius.


  1. i actually bought this movie a few weeks ago, i've yet to watch it

    suppose i'll have to do so now

  2. I love the pictures. They are so fascinating. Thought-provoking. Twisted. Controversial and beautiful.