Exit Through the Gift Shop (Banksy, 2010)

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LQ
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Exit Through the Gift Shop (Banksy, 2010)

#1 Post by LQ » Mon Apr 19, 2010 1:28 pm

5 minute sneak peak here
Has anyone seen this yet?
I can't say I am a follower of street art/ists... in fact I've only recently familiarized myself with the various exploits of Banksy and his ilk but I cannot wait to see this when it opens in Philadelphia this Friday. From what I've read and seen, it seems like an infectiously entertaining and anarchic hodgepodge of a documentary. I'd love to hear others' thoughts on it.

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Re: Exit Through the Gift Shop (Banksy, 2010)

#2 Post by cinemartin » Mon Apr 19, 2010 1:48 pm

I thought it was very entertaining and a good overview of street art as movement. It also raises interesting questions about art and commerce as a whole. I think the film is a lot like Banksy's art, blurring some lines that many people prefer to be clearly defined.

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Re: Exit Through the Gift Shop (Banksy, 2010)

#3 Post by colinr0380 » Tue Apr 20, 2010 2:51 pm

I've only read the reviews of the film so far (including a very positive one in Sight and Sound) but it sounds like it could be described as a version of F For Fake if, instead of Orson Welles, Elmyr de Hory himself had appropriated Francois Reichenbach's part finished documentary film and produced a copy of a documentary (featuring all the expected beats) out of it about himself!

This is a segment from the BBC's Culture Show on the film.

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Re: Exit Through the Gift Shop (Banksy, 2010)

#4 Post by mfunk9786 » Sun Apr 25, 2010 3:06 am

This was an absolutely fantastic film. Beyond the somewhat unexpected 'wow' factor of a lot of the footage, there's an underlying message to the film that Banksy alludes to early in the film, and that isn't hard to find by the end. One of my favorite works of his says it all: once an art movement like this becomes commercialized, it pretty much goes to shit, because the entire ideal that it began upon has been squashed. For a documentary, Exit Through the Gift Shop[/url] takes a lot of twists and turns, but by the end I felt as if Mr. Brainwash was just a creation of Banksy's to make everyone who spends tons of money on his work and stands in line to catch a glimpse at his Campbell's Soup spraypaint can all step back and take a look at themselves when Banksy inevitably comes forward and admits that he and his associates simply did the work and made Guetta the ideal face of the giant prank. Or should that all be assumed? I mean, no one walks away from the film thinking that Mr. Brainwash is an actual artist, right - that he's anything but a huge hoax being perpetrated by Banksy... oh, it's all so convoluted.

What makes this film so great is that all that I've typed about it so far doesn't even need to be spoiler tagged because it won't make a lick of fucking sense until you've seen it. What's so fascinating about this documentary is that it would have been great on its own, without the realization that after a certain left turn in the film, when Guetta begins making his own art, the entire film becomes scripted in its own way. And that'd be one thing - but thousands of people and millions of those people's dollars were all cogs in this elaborate hoax machine that Banksy has created.

Or maybe I'm wrong, and Guetta really thinks he's a great artist. But I'm going to go ahead and doubt it. Although I wouldn't mind seeing the film a few more times to make sure.

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Re: Exit Through the Gift Shop (Banksy, 2010)

#5 Post by LQ » Thu Jun 03, 2010 11:43 am

I differ from mfunk in that I accept this film and specifically Mr. Brainwash at face value. It just doesn't fit with what I perceive to be Banksy's sensibility, to be so coy as to make this all an unnecessarily elaborate joke on 'brainwashed' consumers of art when he's so forthright about his feelings on the subject- reference the piece mfunk linked to above, for one. To me, what makes the movie so potent is that it IS real, and there exist people that do take utter advantage of their privileged place. I just can't figure out if Guetta did so unwittingly, if he nonchalantly applied the same process he did in ripping off hipsters at his vintage store, or if he fully realized what he was doing. I'm leaning towards the former, because the guy doesn't seem to ever think, he just does. If Exit Through the Gift Shop is a mockumentary, a streetwise Christopher Guest film, then it loses it's potency in my eyes. Just like Thierry was in the right place at the right time with his video camera, Banksy realized, sadly, that he too was in the right place at the right time to document the corruption of the art movement he helped to birth.

....then again, Banksy speaks about the satisfaction he gets from watching people's reactions to his pieces, and I suppose I can see how others believe he'd raise the stakes and create a whole character such as Mr. Brainwash and then sit back and watch the reactions, but that seems almost more mean-spirited than clever, which is something that I can't quite see coming from Banksy.

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Re: Exit Through the Gift Shop (Banksy, 2010)

#6 Post by Cosmic Bus » Thu Sep 09, 2010 3:23 pm

I didn't see an appropriate place to ask in the international part of the board, so: does anyone know if the UK Blu-ray is region-free? I haven't seen a single review for it yet, and while all of Revolver's other releases are not locked, better to be sure before ordering...

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Re: Exit Through the Gift Shop (Banksy, 2010)

#7 Post by mfunk9786 » Thu Sep 09, 2010 4:00 pm

No idea, and weeks ago I sent a couple of e-mails to Revolver to no avail (before I had a Sherwood).

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Re: Exit Through the Gift Shop (Banksy, 2010)

#8 Post by colinr0380 » Thu Sep 09, 2010 6:32 pm

I've just looked through the disc and there is nothing on the packaging of the Blu-Ray to say for sure whether it is locked to Region B or not. I've played the disc fine, straight after playing a Criterion Blu, but I think my player switches regions automatically, so I'm afraid I can't tell for sure whether my player is compensating for any region coding or if the disc is one that plays all regions (and it probably didn't help that I was wearing the pair of star shaped kaleidoscopic '2D viewing glasses' that came in the case at the same time as doing the disc playability tests!)

But the lack of the region logo on the packaging or the disc itself is perhaps a good sign!

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Re: Exit Through the Gift Shop (Banksy, 2010)

#9 Post by Cosmic Bus » Fri Sep 10, 2010 3:21 am

According to someone from the blu-ray.com forum, the disc is actually region-2 locked. Ah well.

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Re: Exit Through the Gift Shop (Banksy, 2010)

#10 Post by colinr0380 » Sat Sep 11, 2010 5:37 pm

Having now watched the film I would agree with LQ's take on it. The film that often comes to mind while watching is Overnight, in which a filmmaker is kind of upstaged by his making of documentary (and backstabbed by his crew while his attention is elsewhere!), though Exit comes across as a bit less of a personally motivated attack as that film. It can be seen as about commercialisation of art, but there is also an exploration of how art is 'appropriated' for the viewer's purposes, and that just as environments can be 'hijacked' for a grand statement a lot of the impact of such a statement depends on the eye of the beholder.

There's a tragedy there that the more mercenary, monetarised gazes are often seen as holding a greater cultural importance than that of a casual viewer who might be particularly glad to see something fighting with humour against the branding and signage that surround and impose on everyone all the time.

It was interesting to see the way that Guetta's reasons for filming constantly are also seen in these kind of appropriationary terms - as a way of controlling and fixing his world, and that as long as he has filmed everything then he never actually feels the need to actually watch any of the stuff. It seems to be enough to know that he has possession and control over his tapes (and in a sense over time itself) rather than needing to use them to relive past moments, as would normally be assumed to be the reason for using a camera all the time. Surprisingly, Guetta's long suffering family are portrayed as regularly ignored in this film - used as props for films he is never going to watch and often abandoned as he goes in search of more exciting events.

This then builds in the early section of the film when after following numerous other artists he goes after Banksy seemingly just to 'complete the set', which raises questions of obsession beyond the point of having an end goal to achieve. It's just a more extreme version of any kind of collector (even Criterion collector's if the spine number completist obsession takes precedence over the films themselves!) - like trying to fill in every gap in a sticker album, and searching for the rarest and most valuable card to stick in your book.

I like the way that, as LQ says, the street artists initially think that they will get some benefit out of letting Guetta film them in order that he can create a documentary about their art, yet it is the terribly inept film that he creates once he is forced to actually attempt to create a film out of his footage (compounded by his successful capitalising on street art in his own exhibition) which seems to turn the tables and force the artists like Banksy to have to try and salvage their own documentary, from their own perspective, out of the wreckage.

If the footage from Guetta's film called Life Remote Control The Movie on the DVD is any indication, there was a lot of work to do in order to create a workable documentary! It is a little difficult to judge Guetta's film from the extract on the disc (cut down from 1hr 30mins to 14mins 30), but it seems almost a parody of a badly made documentary - a nonsensical non-narrative piece where there is absolutely no sign of structure; no introduction of interview subjects or development of their characters; bizarre multiple strobing edits and visual manipulations within just one interview scene and brash, repetitive sound effects; family home movies, and strange non-sequitur cameos from Malcolm McLaren talking about the Sex Pistols, Pedro Almodovar giving filmmaking advice and a 96 year old French woman talking about the dumbing down of the youth of today! It feels very ADD in the way there is no fixed subject, just wanderings between unrelated, incomprehensible sections of material.

I wonder if maybe Banksy had an inkling that Guetta would become a perfect subject and planted the art gallery seed in his head for that reason - Guetta as someone barely conscious of the wider implications of his actions becomes a painfully enthusiastic symbol for the idea of how art is co-opted, melding the seeming contradictory extremes of fandom and commerce together into one powerful force eating away at the value of art from both ends.

I know I shouldn't bring the name up again in the forum but throughout the final section of the film detailing Guetta's exhibition I was having nightmarish visions of it being similar to what might happen if swimminghorses did an exhibition of his Fake Criterion Covers! Similarly to swimminghorse's artworks there is the (rather simple) idea of artistic expression that can be made out, but any originality is undercut by an amateurish approach and a mercenary cookie-cutter approach to production - the fan without the individual vision to take the idea that they like so much and push it on a bit further into something original (here's where the parallels to F For Fake come in, Guetta as the Clifford Irving-figure copying the copier. Can you still be a success in your own right just by aping previous movements without adding anything of your own? And does having a crew of employees creating your work for you that you then sign off on negate your individual artistic input?) I particularly found the barcode pictures that Guetta seems to prefer to work with to be very similar to the eyeball searingly offensive while showing a kernel of an interesting, if limited, idea on a theme that many of the swimminghorses covers had.

I especially liked the way that Banksy only appears a few times in the latter section of the film, and it is usually to make a tragically hilarious comment about Guetta's talent! Eventually the film seems more than commercialisation or appropriation but about the conflict between 'dangerous art' (art with social and political commentary, and the street artists reclaiming of public space and to attempt to assert an individual artistic voice) and 'safe art' (mass produced works shown in an art gallery and pre-orders from art collectors being made even before the exhibition opens).

Which itself begs the question of what exactly drew Guetta to this world in the first place? Was it something to give his life meaning and excitement (which raises uncomfortable questions about how he treats his wife and children), and it didn't particularly matter what exactly that thing would have been, or is he truly committed to this artistic movement without really understanding its reasons for being, despite having spent many months filming the leading lights of the movement?

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Re: Exit Through the Gift Shop (Banksy, 2010)

#11 Post by colinr0380 » Wed Nov 03, 2010 10:14 am

Exit has won 'Most Entertaining Documentary' at the Grierson British Documentary Awards.

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Re: Exit Through the Gift Shop (Banksy, 2010)

#12 Post by LQ » Thu Jan 13, 2011 12:19 pm


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Re: Exit Through the Gift Shop (Banksy, 2010)

#13 Post by James Mills » Thu Jan 13, 2011 12:40 pm

Wow, I'm surprised he finally put that whole debate to rest. Although it would have been pretty genius for the entire thing to have really been a prank, I think the message itself is perhaps more powerful knowing that it all went down naturally rather than being mostly invoked.

edit: Some really great quotes in there, Banksy always comes off as modest and honest. This one's a gem, "Film is incredibly democratic and accessible, it’s probably the best option if you actually want to change the world, not just re-decorate it."
Last edited by James Mills on Thu Jan 13, 2011 12:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Exit Through the Gift Shop (Banksy, 2010)

#14 Post by mfunk9786 » Thu Jan 13, 2011 12:46 pm

I still don't believe him, and I think the bonus features on the DVD are nearly proof that it's an elaborate prank. The footage of "Life: Remote Control" is preceded by a message stating that it was a full length film by Guetta but was cut down to 14 minutes for the DVD for legal reasons. Gimme a break. The whole thing is a gag. And an ingenious one at that: the more convinced I become that it's a gag, the better the film becomes in my eyes. A true guerilla art piece.

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Re: Exit Through the Gift Shop (Banksy, 2010)

#15 Post by James Mills » Thu Jan 13, 2011 12:53 pm

mfunk9786 wrote:I still don't believe him, and I think the bonus features on the DVD are nearly proof that it's an elaborate prank. The footage of "Life: Remote Control" is preceded by a message stating that it was a full length film by Guetta but was cut down to 14 minutes for the DVD for legal reasons. Gimme a break. The whole thing is a gag. And an ingenious one at that: the more convinced I become that it's a gag, the better the film becomes in my eyes. A true guerilla art piece.
What do you make of the footage from Thierry actually being from almost a decade ago then? The article presents inarguable evidence to support the notion that at least some of the documentary footage is 100% real. Are you thinking that perhaps Banksy later convinced him to become Mr. Brainwash simply for the sake of the film?

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Re: Exit Through the Gift Shop (Banksy, 2010)

#16 Post by LQ » Thu Jan 13, 2011 12:55 pm

I still don't believe him, and I think the bonus features on the DVD are nearly proof that it's an elaborate prank. The footage of "Life: Remote Control" is preceded by a message stating that it was a full length film by Guetta but was cut down to 14 minutes for the DVD for legal reasons. Gimme a break. The whole thing is a gag. And an ingenious one at that: the more convinced I become that it's a gag, the better the film becomes in my eyes. A true guerilla art piece.
I don't think there's any evidence to support the notion that it's a hoax outside of your own mind and your preconceived notions of Banksy's prankish tendencies, yet there is a ton of evidence to support its reality. Thierry Guetta exists, his footage exists; -Mr. Brainwash exists- and continues to put on art shows to this day. Plus, as colinr was saying above, within the context of the film alone, we're given such a remarkably strong insight into Guetta's personality (through his own material!) that it makes it nearly impossible for me to consider that he is 'acting'. The obsessive, constant filming of daily events to 'seize control of his life' or however Guetta put it....but then essentially discarding the years and years' worth of tapes, never rewatching or thinking about them, is a succinct metaphor for his personality and artistic outlook. He DOES, he takes, he controls, but he never thinks or reflects.

But do enjoy your misinterpretation, dear ;)

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Re: Exit Through the Gift Shop (Banksy, 2010)

#17 Post by mfunk9786 » Thu Jan 13, 2011 1:04 pm

James Mills wrote:
mfunk9786 wrote:I still don't believe him, and I think the bonus features on the DVD are nearly proof that it's an elaborate prank. The footage of "Life: Remote Control" is preceded by a message stating that it was a full length film by Guetta but was cut down to 14 minutes for the DVD for legal reasons. Gimme a break. The whole thing is a gag. And an ingenious one at that: the more convinced I become that it's a gag, the better the film becomes in my eyes. A true guerilla art piece.
What do you make of the footage from Thierry actually being from almost a decade ago then? The article presents inarguable evidence to support the notion that at least some of the documentary footage is 100% real. Are you thinking that perhaps Banksy later convinced him to become Mr. Brainwash simply for the sake of the film?
That's exactly what I think. I don't doubt anything we were told about Guetta up to the point where he decides to become an artist himself. I believe that he shot all that footage of Banksy and others, etc. What I don't believe is that he actually cut together such a ridiculous film, and that he decided to become an artist on his own. I also don't believe that, once they saw what a monster they'd created, that Fairey or Banksy would lend any quotes or support to Guetta unless they were in on the hoax.

Plus, there is so much humor in the Brainwash artwork that stems from the idea that it's extremely easy to trick people into thinking that subverting ironic images in both the most obvious and the most bizarrely disjointed ways immediately makes those subversions art. The work that Mr. Brainwash puts out convinces me even further that this is all an elaborate prank that Guetta, Banksy, Fairey, and probably others are completely in on.

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Re: Exit Through the Gift Shop (Banksy, 2010)

#18 Post by domino harvey » Thu Jan 13, 2011 1:05 pm

Guys, Banksy's rap career is the real deal

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Re: Exit Through the Gift Shop (Banksy, 2010)

#19 Post by Alan Smithee » Thu Jan 13, 2011 1:19 pm

Prank or concept? I don't know that there's really a difference. When a concept becomes funny is it then a prank? I doubt that every single word in the film is true and I don't doubt that Banksy had some conversations with Thierry about what his work could mean but other than that I think the latter half of the film is them shooting actions that they set in motion. It's the Werner Herzog ecstasy of truth style of documentary. It's still a documentary. And the first half is a very valuable street art doc that simultaneously covers a lot of important street artists as well as Thierry himself who is apparently the zelig of street art. If it is a carefully designed ruse about the selling out of street art I love that Thierry is the one doing it because he had such a selfless love for it.

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Re: Exit Through the Gift Shop (Banksy, 2010)

#20 Post by domino harvey » Tue Jan 18, 2011 12:22 am


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Re: Exit Through the Gift Shop (Banksy, 2010)

#21 Post by knives » Tue Jan 18, 2011 12:30 am

I would love it if this turns out to be a scam.

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Re: Exit Through the Gift Shop (Banksy, 2010)

#22 Post by Murdoch » Tue Jan 18, 2011 12:37 am

Anybody who spends that much money on something so pointless deserves to be scammed.

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Re: Exit Through the Gift Shop (Banksy, 2010)

#23 Post by mfunk9786 » Tue Jan 18, 2011 12:48 am

Sounds a little bit familiar to me...

Image

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Re: Exit Through the Gift Shop (Banksy, 2010)

#24 Post by manicsounds » Tue Jan 18, 2011 2:12 am

Is it possible that Guetta and Banksy are the same person?


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