In the late 1990s, a hybrid form of graffiti began appearing in cities around the world. Enlisting stickers, stencils, posters, and sculpture and spread by the burgeoning Internet, it would be labeled ‘street art’ and established itself as the most significant counterculture movement of a generation. Banksy began his career as a graffiti artist in Bristol. The London newspaper The Times once called Banksy ‘the true people’s painter’. His black-and-white images of kissing policemen and rioters throwing flowers are now popular icons. A combination of wry humor and political content, his work can be seen on walls from post-hurricane New Orleans to the Palestinian West Bank. Banksy is renowned for fiercely guarding his identity to avoid prosecution and in the film he plays with his own absence and anonymity.
The story might be summarized like this: French shop owner Thierry Guetta sets out to capture an image of the secretive Banksy. Exit Through the Gift Shop traces Thierry’s attempts to picture the world of graffiti art in thrilling detail, following many of the best-known vandals at work in the streets. ‘An incendiary true story of low-level criminality, companionship and incompetence. The story of how one man set out to film the un-filmable. And failed.’ (from the official press release). No matter if this film is a mockumentary, a fiction film or experimental doc, the result is hilarious and remarkable, part personal journey and part exposé of the art world with its precious mix of hot air and hype.
Exit Through the Gift Shop
87 min. / 35 mm
Sound: Jack Gillies and Alan Sallabank
Editing: Tom Fulford and Chris King
Production: Jaimie D'Cruz, James Gay-Rees for Paranoid Pictures
Distribution: Cinetic Media.
Dutch Distributor: A-Film
Banksy, pseudonym for a British graffiti artist, possibly a native of Yate, near Bristol born, in 1974. Son of a photocopier technician, he trained as a butcher but became involved in graffiti during the great Bristol aerosol boom of the late 1980s. His artworks are often satirical pieces of art on topics such as politics, culture, and ethics. Art auctioneers have been known to attempt to sell his street art on location, leaving its removal in the hands of the winning bidder.