The Czech premiere of Exit Through the Gift Shop came to Prague the other week. Directed by the mysterious street artist Banksy, it tells the story of Thierry Guetta, a French immigrant in Los Angeles, and his obsession with street art.
After a chance encounter with his cousin, Invader (known for his mosaic recreations of space invader video game characters which can be seen all over the world, including Prague), Thierry makes it his almost obsessional mission to follow and capture some of the world’s major street artists in action. Featuring such heavyweights as Shepard Fairy, Monsieur Andre, Swoon and Neckface, this documentary tracks them around the world as they paint, while looking at the impact of the boom in popularity this movement has recently experienced.
Having shot most of the biggest names Thierry had one major player missing, the elusive and faceless Banksy who’s work has become famous the world over for his political, often tongue-in-cheek stencil graffiti. Once they meet Thierry offers his services as cameraman, assistant and sight locator. It soon becomes clear that with all the hours of footage shot and with little creative direction, this documentary project is going nowhere. So, given directorial rights and with Thierry out creating his own graffiti alter-ego: “Mr Brainwash”. Banksy decides to re-cut the footage, but with the focus not on the artists but on Thierry.
With interesting insights into the world of celebrity and anonymity, Exit Through the Gift Shop is a fun and light hearted romp through a dynamic and sometimes chaotic world in which the boundary between art and advertising is often blurred. Whether or not you like street art and its controversial place amongst our city walls, this documentary covers some important moments in the art form’s evolution and takes its place at the top of a myriad of other street art documentaries.
Exit Through the Gift Shop is now playing at various cinemas, so choose yours.