Exit Through the Gift Shop

Have you heard of this film?

We stumbled across it the other evening, while looking for something to watch on Netflix. I was particularly drawn to the title because I’ve worked on and visited many exhibits that ended in a gift shop. It’s kind of what you do. That’s how you know the exhibit’s over. 🙂

In addition, during our recent trip to The Met, we saw an interesting exhibit featuring the work of John Baldessari (titled John Baldessari: Pure Beauty–more on that later). Anyhow, when we got to the obligatory gift shop at the end, but for some reason, the gift shop was closed. So, we were forced to turn around and backtrack through the exhibit, which irked me for some reason. (It was the Monday after Christmas, a day when the Museum is usually closed and the day after the blizzard, so I think they were short-staffed. So, I got over it.)

So, with that memory in our minds, we were drawn to the title and the film’s description:

Filmmaker Thierry Guetta had been casually documenting the underground world of street art for years, but when he encounters Banksy, an elusive British stencil artist, his project takes a fascinating twist. Unimpressed with Guetta’s footage, Banksy takes over filmmaking duties and Guetta reinvents himself as a street artist named Mr. Brainwash — and, much to Banksy’s surprise, immediately becomes a darling of the Los Angeles art scene. (from

Whether “Mr. Brainwash” is for real or a creation of Bansky (and others) is only part of the fascination of the film. As someone unfamiliar with street/underground/graffiti art, I found it both intriguing and hilarious.

If you have more than a minute for today’s post, check out a clip from the film:

Also, be sure to check out my friend Josh’s review on facebook.

Have you seen it? What do you think?

3 thoughts on “Exit Through the Gift Shop

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Exit Through the Gift Shop | Museum Minute --

  2. Hello!

    Exit Through the Gift Shop received a 6/10 for me. I thought it did a great job of exposing the underground network of street artists, their motivations, and their work itself. I was frustrated by “Mr. Brainwash,” though, and thought he was too much of a contrived creation to be taken seriously. That his “original” work was being purchased for so much money goes to show us how much of a consumerist culture we live in. I think he drew a lot of negative attention towards street artists and their art; I support Banksy’s final decision to never associate with a project like that ever again.

    Nicholas M.
    Culture in Peril
    Twitter @cultureinperil

    • Thanks for your comments! I wasn’t sure how I felt about the film, although I did appreciate how it reminded us to take a closer look at what we call “art.” A few years ago a friend and I stumbled upon an event that could only be part of a reality show – two galleries, a block apart, filled with complete nonsense. The pieces were obviously items found at goodwill, which were splattered with neon paint and hand prints. In each gallery, the “artist” was trying to sell his or her stuff, while a TV crew followed them around. My friend tried to engage one of the “artists” in a conversation about the local art scene. The “artist”, who proclaimed he was from the area, had no idea what she was talking about.

      The point is, people were buying it–both the art, and the fabricated environment.

      This movie reminded me of that experience. Perhaps I should have written more about it!

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