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Wednesday, June 8, 2011

"Exit Through The Gift Shop", what's art, who's an artist?

Exit Through the Gift Shop

What’s street art? Street art or urban art can be considered art? What’s art? Who can be called an artist? All this questions are adressed on this very peculiar documentary, but without spoiling you anything, I can tell you that none of them is answered. But that doesn’t ruin the film or makes it a failure. On the contrary, that only makes it a bigger, bolder, and funnier (dark, twisted humour) movie.

A hoax or a real documentary? A realistic accolade of a strange parade of peculiar people and real artists or an enormous, sarcastic pantomime to show how ridiculous and arguable is the art world nowadays? You could favour both possibilities, but you'll probably end like me, having the suspicion that no matter which side you choose, doubts will remain.

Without going into the real goal of the film (if any), the mirror game it proposes is fascinating: we have two movies inside of "Exit Through the Gift Shop". First the documentary on the street art movement, interesting and absorbing while we know more about it through the eyes of a very peculiar character (I say character on purpose), Thierry Guetta. Then, this French weirdo steals the show (won't say anything else) and we change the subject from the documentary about graffiti artists to a documentary on him. 

If Guetta is the starring role, Banksy, the famous street artist, considered the biggest and most relevant of his generation, as the creator (I say creator instead of director on purpose) of the film shows, that aside from being a unique artist, is also a gifted filmmaker, and a very clever mastermind. He suppossedly builds a movie from a failed movie. And assuming that unexpected task, he portrays a generation of artists, his artistical movement, without going into the usual hagiography, while he shows how superficial, empty and silly is the world that surrounds art, especially when art is linked to success (artists sell out? street artists were counter cultural?) . Moreover, he is capable of showing how vane and irreal fame is, adding his smart comments, little darts full of poison and wittyness, true gems of this film.

So, quoting Banksy, we can summarize the movie, "It's basically the story of how one man set out to film the un-filmable. And failed." A failure has never been so amusing to see. But it provokes more than just laughing. It will make you think, here's his conclusion,"I used to encourage everyone I knew to make art; I don't do that so much anymore." And wonder, do we know what's art anymore? I probably don't. But I'm willing to say that if cinema has to be considered art, then "Exit Through the Gift Shop" must be an outstanding, an original, piece of art.

SCORE: 8,5/10

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