Saturday 26 Jul

TJ Mayes - "When Love Comes Down"

’50s era rock ’n’ roll had been long overdue for a rebirth. Thankfully, the stockpile of capable luminaries has not been in short supply over the past few years. 

07/23/2014 | Comments 0

Boare - "playdatshit"

The world is in the midst of an electronic music renaissance, and you find most of this boon of producers laying claim to the club-friendly, bass-dropping variety, holing up in the the free-flowing world of hip-hop beatmaking or pitching their tent on the out-there, boundary-pushing EDM camp.
07/23/2014 | Comments 0

Broncho - "Class Historian"

Broncho has never been hurting in the hook department. The success of the trio’s 2011 debut, Can’t Get Past the Lips, was predicated mostly on its ability to marry melodies with kinetic guitar riffs and anarchic energy. Yet we’ve heard nothing to the degree of pure pop catchiness on display in “Class Historian,” the new single from Broncho’s upcoming sophomore album, Just Enough Hip to Be Woman.
07/23/2014 | Comments 0

Manmade Objects - Monuments

No one wants to be forgotten; everyone wants some sort of legacy, a mark they leave behind as they exit this life for whatever lies beyond.

And for as long as there has been death, there have been monuments — whether austere or understated, abstract or concrete, prominent or tucked away in private — erected by the ones they loved to assure that remembrance, at least for a time.
07/15/2014 | Comments 0

Admirals - Amidst the Blue

Sometimes it helps to not be very good.

Some of the best albums and artists were born out of happy accidents owed to varying degrees of early suckage — the perfect note or chord for a song found by missing the one you are aiming for, failed mimicry of an idol bearing something entirely new and great instead.

07/09/2014 | Comments 0
Home · Articles · Music · Music · Exit Through the Gift Shop'...

Exit Through the Gift Shop' explores how art becomes commodity, or maybe it's performance art

Kathryn Jenson White July 22nd, 2010

When my son, Zachary, was about 12, we visited Memphis. At that city's most important holy site, I bought Graceland Platinum Tour tickets, which took us not only through the mansion and its grounds, but also the "Elvis Lives in Hollywood" exhibit, Elvis' Automobile Museum, the "Elvis Presley: Fashion King" exhibit, Elvis' two custom airplanes and other consecrated areas.

As we left our third stop on the platinum pilgrimage, Zachary asked, "Mom, have you noticed that each time we leave an exhibit, we have to exit through a gift shop?" Since that first obviously gifted-child recognition of commodification in a consumer culture, he and I have shared many such exits, which are really, in the existential sense, no exits, but rather gateways to the inauthentic.

"Exit Through the Gift Shop," the film, has several layers to its story, both behind and in front of the camera. Those layers make it the deliciously funny, visually exciting, smart work it is and prove again that documentaries can be as entertaining as fictional films. This one has an engaging plot, compelling characters aplenty and, most importantly, fascinating ideas made flesh.

The film screens Friday to Sunday at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art.

"Exit" exists because amateur videographer Thierry Guetta, who runs a vintage clothing shop in Los Angeles with his wife, becomes obsessed with street artists. He spends countless hours shooting footage of their work, them at work and them talking about their work.

The biggest "get" in street art is, of course, is British graffiti artist Banksy, who has built an international reputation not only on his pretty amazing art " now sold in galleries for serious megabucks to serious art collectors " but also for trying his damnedest never to be photographed. Anonymity makes good sense for someone engaged in a criminal activity, as well as a superb marketing ploy.

Guetta ultimately convinces Banksy " face blurred by the infamous fuzzy dots and voice mechanically distorted " to participate. Then, Banksy, whose name rhymes with "pranksy" and references money, discovers Guetta has boxes filled with thousands of hours and tens of thousands of feet of completely disorganized footage of major street artists, among them Shepard Fairey of the iconic Obama poster, and Space Invader, Guetta's cousin.

Banksy suggests that Guetta make a real film about the phenomenon of street art, rather than just allowing his amazing treasure trove of images to rot in boxes. Guetta tries. What he produces is so bad that Banksy " in the mother of all meta-moves " turns the tables to make a meta-movie. He convinces Guetta that he should turn his passion for street art into making street art. Banksy becomes the director of the film and Guetta, after choosing the name Mr. Brain Wash, its star artist.

What unfolds as Banksy films Guetta in action and, in a weird inversion of the traditional talking-head documentary convention, his fuzzed-out face talking about Guetta, is witty and wise.

Street art is supposed to be, of course, subversive. It defiantly takes art from the inner walls of museums and homes of the wealthy, and makes canvases of the outer walls of buildings new and old, subway cars and anything else it pleases. No entry fees; no gift shops. Of course, seeing a potentially profitable product, the art establishment has worked to co-opt street art, just as Hollywood studios have worked to co-opt independent film. There's nothing wrong with artists making money, of course. Unfortunately, the system makes the most of it and, generally, changes the art into clichéd commodity. This film explores that.

Just as there were those who believed "The Blair Witch Project" was a real documentary, there are those who have asserted that this film is not a real documentary. They think it might be a mockumentary, a Banksy trick from start to finish. It's much smarter than that, I think: It's a real documentary talking about what making a documentary means as much as it's talking about what art means.

Close your eyes for a minute and imagine your last museum visit. See the exhibitions. Then see the satellite gift shops placed at the exits from each of those exhibitions. Graceland and the Metropolitan Museum of Art have more in common than might at first be thought.

Gasoline to drive through the Southern states? About 80 cents a gallon. Platinum Tour tickets? About $30 each. That Elvis shot glass Zachary got for his collection? About $3.

"Exit Through the Gift Shop"? You know. "Kathryn Jenson White
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