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Documentary Analysis: Exit Through The Gift Shop Essay

There is no true definition of art. To me, art is very subjective and can mean different things for different people. In my opinion, art is a form of self-expression or filling in a space in a way that is beautiful or aesthetically pleasing to the artist. A true work of art can be a painting, a sculpture, a picture, a video, a play, a piece of writing, or a drawing that is full of imagination, creativity, and skill. For something to be considered art, it must be arranged in a meaningful way.

This does not mean it should be a cut and dry realistic piece of art where the viewer knows xactly what they are looking at; it could be abstract and still be considered art because the artist intended to arrange their art piece in an abstract way. There is a big difference between art and vandalism, however. Vandalism is an illegal action that intentionally destroys or damages public property. Although an individual that vandalizes something may have the intention to arrange their art in a meaningful, beautiful way, it is still vandalism if they do their work of art on property that they do not own.

For example, in the documentary, Exit Through the Gift Shop, the street artists such as Banksy and Shepard Fairey would put their artworks on brick walls, street signs, or billboards that they did not own or have any rights to. However, the street artists were making art when they were selling it because then they had the rights to that work of art. The line is drawn when they perform their art on a surface that does not belong to them. Consumerism, the concept that the consumption of goods is beneficial to the economy, has grouped art right into its bundle of products and goods that should be bought and sold.

Consumerism has had both a ositive and a negative impact on art. On the positive side, art is a career for many individuals and without consumerism they would not be able to make a living. For example, Banksy or even Thierry had art exhibitions where they displayed the art that they created and could make money off it. Without these opportunities, artists would not survive and being an artist would not be an actual career. Artists would have to do art as a hobby and work other jobs to make a living instead of practicing their art full-time.

On a more negative note, consumerism takes the authenticity out of the artwork. By producing art for capitalistic needs, art becomes something that fulfils the interests of consumers rather than being a unique way that an individual can express themselves. In other words, since art is so easily reproduced and copied for consumerism, it loses its unique qualities such as its originality, its meaning, and its personal connection to the artist who created it. On that note, art can be owned by a consumer.

However, the consumer may not have bought the original form of art. By selling their artwork, the artist is willing to give up their rights to that piece of art hich gives the consumer who bought the art the rights to it now. The economical practice of consumerism as well as the competitiveness of street art and vandalism were all major themes displayed in the documentary, Exit Through the Gift Shop. However, I think that the document was all an elaborate prank by Banksy, the famous English street artist who refuses to reveal his true identity.

First, the documentary was originally supposed to be about Thierry Guetta, an unknown, nobody, who constantly carries his camera everywhere and ironically found a bunch of different famous street artists, including Banksy, to record their work. However, the documentary ended up being about Banksy, not Thierry or other street artists, which makes the viewer think that the whole documentary was supposed to be about Banksy in the first place. I believe the documentary was made to promote and show more of Banksy’s work because street art is all about self-promotion because if not, artists will get no recognition for their work.

However, the documentary was also made to pull a fast one on all the viewers and consumers who bought work from Thierry also known as Mr. Brainwash (MBW) who is most likely a paid actor cast for this pecific role in the documentary. It is also ironic how MBW’s work looks like a knockoff, fake version of Banksy’s and the famous artist Andy Warhol’s. For example, one of the most famous pieces that MBW “created” was a play on Andy Warhol’s Campbell’s Tomato Soup can.

MBW also did absolutely nothing at all and, in a very short amount of time, created a massive show full of over 100 works of art. It usually takes artists years to perfect their skills, dexterity, and develop their own personal style. Thierry’s artwork looks a lot like everyone else’s. Even hen Thierry was asked what his inspiration was, he would say he did not have any inspiration or ideas and he would ask other people to tell him what to do. Lastly, MBW has never had a show after his “Life Is Beautiful” show depicted by the documentary.

It is very ironic how so many people came out to see this art show that MBW hosted when no one knew he existed a couple months earlier. Many artists struggle for years to get their name and their work out in circulation whereas MBW had a massive line out the door at his first show. This “documentary” created by Banksy is actually a message about rt, politics, and society in general. Exit Through the Gift Shop shows how art is easily replicated and how easily fooled people are by showing how the atmosphere of art and the artist becomes exploited for monetary gain.

Banksy seems very anti- capitalism and anti-establishment and he created this documentary, which is not a documentary at all, to show how out of hand consumerism of art is getting. People bought Thierry’s works of art, an artist they barely knew, and he made millions of dollars on it when really his “art” was knockoff versions of other artists’ works. The irony in this, is that Banksy is depicting how it is ridiculous how street art has been monetized while simultaneously making money off of it to prove his point.

Much like politics, people jumped on the bandwagon and bought “art” from someone they barely knew just because a big stink was made over this new guy and his art. It is very likely that Banksy himself promoted Thierry and his art show, therefore, all of Banksy’s followers figured that MBW was going to be a big famous artist, much like Banksy himself, someday. This really shows how gullible and materialistic people really re. Thierry made a massive amount of cash from artwork that he barely even produced himself because people were so concerned with status and monetary value.

In conclusion, Exit Through the Gift Shop is not a documentary at all. It was created by Banksy to show how art has become more of a form of consumerism rather than self-expression. He was able to show this idea by promoting a fake artist, MBW, and making millions of dollars off it. Banksy himself even talked about how Thierry was an amateur and his work was not that great during one of his interviews throughout the “documentary”. All in all, art is something that is unique to the artist.

For some people, it makes them who they are. Although consumerism is necessary for an artist to have a career, people need to be buying the art for the sake of its beauty not to jump on the bandwagon because then the art keeps its importance and connection to the artist who created it. Mass consumerism takes the unique qualities out of a piece of art and for many artists, they did not create the artwork to sell it. They created it because it is part of who they are, not to suit the interests of the general public.

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