Two days ago, I had the chance to see Banksy’s movie, Exit Through the Gift Shop. It may be more correct to say that the movie was produced by Banksy, because the pictures are not actually from him. It’s a small detail, because when you will enter to the cinema, it’s a real “Banksy’s experience” that you will encounter.
This movie is like a part of a triptych.
Let’s take a small step back.
Last summer in an exhibition was held in Bristol: Banksy vs. Bristol Museum. This exhibition is the result of Banksy’s work making it into the museum (when he had some pieces on the walls). He goes past the Marcel Duchamp’s ready made-concept, which in spite of good intentions has produced… a load of crap. For this exhibition, Banksy’s pieces are scattered all over the museum, forcing people to pay attention to everything around them to find his work. Somehow he has reproduced in the museum what actually happens on the street.
Banksy invites the spectator to re-think the relationship between art and museum, refusing all merchandising and entry fees. Among the pieces exhibited, we notably find this one:
Which brings me to the second part of the triptych: the movie.
I don’t want to tell you the story, I don’t want to spoil anything for you, but I can say two things: first, it’s the stencil made by Banksy in Salt Lake City during the Movie Premiere at Sundance Festival – everything is there:
Second, is a quote from the trailer: “The world’s first street art disaster movie”.
In this opus, Banksy addresses street-art’s appropriation in the art market, for the consumer, and it’s commercialisation. But before that, you wander around with Space Invaders, Monsieur André, Zevs, Obey… and Banksy. Fans of street-art won’t be disappointed. Not interested in street-art? You won’t regret following your friends into this film, I promise you a lot of laughs anyway; Banksy without humour — so British – is not Banksy.
The movie will be released on the 5th March in UK. Run to it, even though I wouldn’t be surprised to see the movie available on his web site for free in a few months…
So, onto the last part of the triptych – in fact the first and unique: the street.
In Banksy’s work, there is always a strong correlation, a strong unity between the subject and his context (the support). You would say that this is the final touch of street-art anyway, but it’s very often under-exploited by Banksy’s counterparts. This unity subject/support is also presented in the other part of the triptych: for the exhibition, the support “museum” asks us the big question: what is art? and for industrialisation of art’s treatment, what’s more appropriate than the big cash machine of cinema?
Banksy is critical and sarcastic, questioning our society with accuracy and keenness. He does this without ever being pretentious or a smart ass, with some touch of poetry and always with humour. It’s a work of the street, talking to everybody who observes a bit of life around them. This exchange between Banksy and his public is in fact for free. He doesn’t make pieces for any one person, but for everyone and he doesn’t believe in copyright. The expression is free and without interest. But Banksy or not, he’s an outlaw, a vandal, and he succeeds despite his success – which he has inflicted upon himself — to keep the mystery about his identity a secret. This underground nature conserves his freedom to think, his integrity. It’s his best defence against vultures.
For all those reasons, I declare here today that Banksy is, without any doubt, the major artist of our generation, the hero of modern time, the Robin Hood of our consciences.