EXIT THROUGH THE GiFT SHOP: AKA The Banksy Movie (2010)
“Banksy is a sell out”. So reads the graffiti scrawled across the wall. Is this true? Well, he has certainly progressed from being an unknown street artist to an internationally renowned (all be it still anonymous) street artist that can put on sell out exhibitions, shift books by the shed load and – now – make his own films.
Exit Through the Gift Shop is, on the face of it, a documentary made by Banksy about a guy that tried to make a film about Banksy but messed it up so Banksy made a film about him. There is no point getting too bogged down in the plot because to be honest, it is difficult to tell if it is a genuine documentary or if it is another one of Banksy’s magnificent pranks.
Narrated by Rhys Ifans we are taken on a journey through underground street art with a host of graffiti artists, guerrilla stencil painters and pranksters. Whilst Banksy is the highlight of the film, it is clear he is not alone with numerous creative subversives making an appearance in this roller coaster ride that has you grinning, admiring, and on occasion down right laughing, for 87 minutes.
Whilst this is based in ‘underground’, DIY, street art; many of Banksy’s pranks are clearly not cheap. Some punk with a spray can he is not. We get telephone boxes bent in half, giant spray cans and exhibitions with live elephants painted like flock wall paper. Where the money for all this comes from is never explored. A trip to across the Atlantic to do a bit of graffiti is taken for granted, as if it is the most natural thing in the world.
Most of his antics are clearly beyond the pockets of 99% of street artists, but does that really matter? His blend of satire, art, humour and subversion has simultaneously given the art establishment and street art a kick up the rear end. Art is supposed to be about originality, so we don’t want loads of copy cats, but if it inspires kids to do a bit more than just inane tags on bus stops and brightens up our streets then surely that is no bad thing.
Fair play to him though, despite his global fame he appears to have stuck to his roots. His website declares:
“Banksy does not endorse or profit from the sale of greeting cards, mugs, tshirts, photo canvases etc. Banksy is not on Facebook, Myspace, Twitter or Gaydar. Banksy is not represented by any form
of commercial art gallery. All images are made available to download for personal amusement only, thanks”.
What impact this thought provoking film will have on movie making is difficult to tell, but at the moment that is not important, all that matters is that it does what all good films should do, entertain, inspire and agitate. If you don’t leave the cinema after seeing this film eying up a bit of blank wall you have no soul.