Instead of football tonight, I watched Exit Through The Gift Shop. I’m a bit of a Banksy fan, and I wasn’t sure what to expect from this foray into film. I was not disappointed. Banksy’s talent really isn’t with spray paint and stencils, though he drips with natural ability there, but rather with his eye for taking something ordinary and expected and twisting it into something wholly and unexpectedly beautiful. What starts out as a documentary of a non-documentary on street art turns instead into a question of what art means to its creators, how it’s valued by its consumers, and whether or not an artist can sell out and still be an artist.
Speculation as to whether the film was a “hoax” or not seems to miss the point to me. Rather, I see this project as an attempt for Banksy to tease out his own personal understanding as to the definition of art, and to maybe teach us something about it at the same time - a reasonable goal for someone whose most acclaimed work typically involves the willful destruction of other peoples’ property! And maybe that very introspection - arriving at understanding of creation through creation - that’s what it means to be an artist?