Exit Through the Gift Shop is such a 'meta' idea brought to the screen by Banksy, and it's pretty fascinating.
Exit Through the Gift Shop follows the life of compulsive obsessive Thierry Guetta. What he's manically obsessed with is street art, and the people who make it. He finds it fun, unique, and important. He is also crazy about bringing a camera everywhere to document everything he does. He starts off following his friend known as Space Invader, posting art all around their home city. Thierry moves to LA, and begins to follow around all kinds of other well known underground street artists. He starts to chronicle the work of Shepard Fairey, the man behind the Obey art movement. Through his new connections, he is able to meet Banksy, a man that Thierry relentlessly idolizes. From here, Thierry learns everything about street art from Banksy, and becomes motivated to become an artist himself. What comes next, is a ridiculous spectacle put on by Thierry's alter ego, Mr. Brainwash, and Banksy pulls one of the biggest jokes art has ever seen.
At first, when watching 'Exit', you feel you're just watching the amazing world of street art through the eyes of a die hard fan. Sure it's like that for a bit, but halfway through, I began to realize the whole purpose of the film. It tackles a subject that always frustrated me. Thierry gives up his camera, and in return becomes his own street artist named Mr. Brainwash. None of his art is original, it's just cheap stuff that everybody in the game has done. Problem for fellow artists is, this shit sells. He only decided to become an artist because Banksy suggested it. Just the sheer power Banksy has in the words he speaks to Thierry inspires him to tackle street art himself. It goes to show how influenced we are as a society because of clever artists, and the portraits they paint. All over town, advertisements for MBW's (Mr. Brainwash) art show are plastered to walls and fences. Praises from Shepard and Banksy are overly positive and shoved into the public eye, bringing attention to art that nobody would have batted an eye at before. It's not long before people show up in fuckin' drones to gobble down the shit MBW churns out. Hell, he doesn't even make the art, someone else does (probably Banksy n' friends). It's a bunch of Warhol knock off shit like this that sells, all because the public has been informed it's cool, and it's the taste you need to fit in. Exit Through The Gift Shop is as much a bold statement as it is a documentary.
With this film, Banksy really shows us what we look like from his perspective, as people who come along and snatch up art for tons of cash, yet with no idea why. Do we like the way it looks? What it means? Shit does anybody know what art really means? These are questions I asked myself as I watched, in complete awe on how I'd realized how stupid the whole thing is. Like quoted by one of the many street artists in the movie, "I'm trying to figure out where the joke is. I don't know maybe art is the joke."
Exit Through the Gift Shop is a mind bending documentary peering into the lives of street artists, while providing a bold statement on how easy it is to sell people the same old drivel, convincing them they've stumbled upon something brilliant. A more aptly named movie I couldn't think of.