Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Exit Through The Gift Shop

So much hype around this movie. It's kind of like the Helvetica documentary movie in a few ways:

1. It came out about at the similar time - when public appreciation of a form of art is more noticeable.
2. It was made for the general public - a sort of an eye opening introduction to the artform.
3. It was movie that was inevitable. If the makers of Helvetica and Exit Through The Gift Shop hadn't made it, someone else would have made it sooner or later.

I watched it last night with so much anticipation. I realised quite quickly, from the first few shots that I wasn't going to like it. This movie is not about Banksy or the art that he is and does. It is not about graffitti form, nor any philosophy or principle that artists live by. It is not a tribute to anything like Helvetica is a tribute (love and hate) to the typeface.

This movie is about a Frenchman who has too much money for his own good, who should have spent more time with his family than muck around with his camera, who sneaks himself in, winning the trusts of real artists, getting into their lives and making a crass self-centred documentary film about him vandalizing on the works and lives of the vandalizers. And what's worse, as people do all the time, he begins to be convinced that he can produce works of art himself and goes on to produce an exhibition.

To be fair though, this is the game that Banksy and the grafitti cronies play. This is their way of making their statements, defacing walls, beautifying walls, with and without permission, with their ego and name plastered all over it, a bold declaration that the artist is 'the man'. Everything that Banksy does, though he insists that it is not about the money, is aimed to make his name famous. They get their kicks seeing their names (hideously and beautifully) painted on the sides of the passing trains. Theirry, the maker of this film, has done exactly that. Except this crackhead (or a genius, some will say) didn't use the public space or famous landmark to piss his name all over it. He does it on the very people that vandalize.

I heard that the whole thing is a hoax. Of course it is! And does it even matter? Thierry is a nutcase. Banksy (and the other artists in the film) is only a pawn in his little game.

There was a gang of robbers and thieves who looted the rich in the towns and returned to the villages with their riches. But then there was Thierry who hid in the woods, having planted booby traps on the path. The looters were caught unawares, and they all fell. Thierry plundered them, in the full view of the villagers, who watched with great amusement. Banksy, the leader of the gang watched, not saying anything, his arms tied behind his back unable to do anything. He said to himself, half jokingly, This sneaky little guy has won at our own game.

Thierry was a coward and not a worthy robber. But he hadn't lost. 

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