May 14, 2013

Exit Through the Giftshop

I'll just go ahead and acknowledge straight-away the fact that there's a bigger universe of possible television or movies for you to watch (other than this film) tonight than there has ever been in the history of our species, even more available tomorrow night.  So why would you watch internationally acclaimed and cult-artist Banksy's documentary "Exit Through the Giftshop"?  Well I'm not saying you should.

However, if you dig street art, even a tiny little bit, then odds are you're going to be really glad you chose to watch this fantastic film:

First, a little background on my own personal preference: I like art.  Now I don't go totally bananas when Claude [insert super Euro 14th century last name] blah blah's lithographs find their way into town under armed guard.  Hard pass.

To me there's something far more more interesting, compelling, and relevant about an artist who, well, who's actually seen a car in his or her life, and who has something to say about their experiences in this very alien world we now live in today.  That's all even more true when that artists principal motivation isn't fame or money, but pride in their work.

The guys and gals whose exhausted bodies are compelled, from a rare nights sleep, up out of bed and into the streets to not only work for free, but to do it because they LOVE it!  They thrive on breathing life into the cold edges of our cookie-cutter urban sprawl, and care far more about impacting hurried passers-by than some career critic; they seek to "wow" their involuntary constituency to attention, and in that moment, however fleeting, is their opportunity: many street artists exploit that attention to shock or amuse their observers, some merely insight or perpetuate awareness of their brand, but the best, challenge our preconceived notions, our bias, our politics and even ethics.  

A good mix of artists from the totally obscure to internationally famous can be found in this spectacular documentary; I got a chance to watch again recently, and it was even better the second time.

"Exit Through the Giftshop" follows a loosely networked collection of artists, each seemingly equally adept at holding your interest.  A bit surprising is how, as vanguards of contemporary urban/graffiti art today, these artists remain so impossibly modest, especially true given the fact that most of them are also every bit as eccentric, fascinating, and thoughtful as you would expect them to be.

Watch them sneak, dive, duck, and creep through the night, buckets of paint in each arm, jonesing to discover a new and unique medium where, once found, they'll hurriedly apply their art.  

While actively hiding in plain view, these rock-ribbed  all the while seemingly fearless; their ambitions electrified by the night, and illegality of it all.    often jaw-droppingly cool .

This is an interesting and entertaining little gem of a movie that's perfect for anyone who loves urban street art, and also desires to learn more about the still largely enigmatic artists who have no qualms with routinely risking their freedom (as well their very life and limb); to conjure into overnight-existence their increasingly sought after and sophisticated art, and field it on the frontlines of some of the most heavily fought for asset in the world: a share of your attention.

The Movie Page

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