Exit Through the Gift Shop is a 2010 documentary, directed by street art extraordinaire Banksy, that depicts the life of an odd Frenchman named Thierry Guetta who is fascinated with street art and recording his surrounds daily with a video camera. Thierry gets his first taste of what it’s like being a street artist when he starts filming a mysterious man named Banksy, accompanying him day and night on his adventures to have Los Angeles under the palm of his hands with his own tagged artwork. Later, Banksy decides to open an art gallery of paintings showcasing his work and the result of it has been a massive success. Thierry then becomes greatly inspired by the shows success that he decides he wants to become a street artist just like Banksy, so he opts to open an art gallery of his own under the moniker “Mr. Brainwash”. Much to everyone’s surprise, Thierry’s very own art show was a triumphant success and made him a household name in the art world. After watching this documentary, I’ve grown fond of the characteristics of street art and see it as of a movement.
After watching the documentary, I learned to appreciate street art much more. Characteristics of street art can often be seen alongside walls or buildings and usually convey a powerful political or social message. They can come in different sizes, dimensions, or color. Some crafted very simple or abstracted like it a beautiful mess. Most of the time painters will use stencils or spray cans to illustrate their drawings. To street artists, to them it’s almost like an adrenaline rush going out there and expressing your artwork for the whole world to witness, although highly illegal, they are bound to their love of art despite the consequences that come with it. A lot of people may or may not know but street art can be interpreted as a movement. Dating all the way back to the 1960s, Mexican Americans and immigrants were revolting against the government demanding to be treated equally and fairly in society. Word of this movement soon got out and activists started shedding light on this issue within the shape of protest posters as well as murals. Most famously enough would be the mural of revolutionary freedom fighter Che Guevara which is stationed in a housing project known as Estrada Courts, which is east of LA. The mural stands tall and wide with very vibrant colors conveying a thought-provoking social message titled “We Are NOT a minority!!”. Raising awareness to the world that Hispanics should be treated equally and obtain the same rights as everyone else.
Overall Exit Through the Gift Shop gave me a whole new perspective on the world of street art. Yes, it’s a controversial topic to discuss whether it falls in line as vandalism but after being immersed into it I find it quite fascinating. It amazes me what great lengths people dive into just so they can have their voice heard via their work of art. Thierry and Banksy are very dedicated by their craft and will stop at no length to continue on with the passion that they admire so much, which in my opinion is admirable because street art in my opinion definitely deserves its spot in art history seeing as how to it’s brought people of all cultures together along with addressing issues that need to be corrected within our society.
- Jorge Martin “Thinking About the Origins of Street Art, Part 1 Hyperallergic. December 16th, 2010” https://hyperallergic.com/14166/origins-of-street-art/ Accessed 13 November 2019