Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Exit Through the Gift Shop - Movie Review

I rarely spend more than about $10 on additions to my DVD collection, but when I happened upon this Banksy film while perusing the movie section of BestBuy, I quickly plunked down the $25 that it cost.  My high school students have always been fascinated by the illusive street artist Banksy, and the risk taking associated with his particular art form.  I like him because he is such an excellent example of the power of art as a means of communicating complex ideas and personal/political/cultural statements. 

This movie is rated R.  It has a documentary format and the "F word" pops up sporadically.  I would have no problem showing this movie to an upper level high school art class after sending home parental permission forms.  The best advice I can give here is to know your principle well and run it by him or her before showing it in any class.  That said, it is a very watchable and fascinating film.  Though Banksy is ultimately responsible for the existence of the film in its final version, the documentary is not about Banksey and his work per-se.  Instead, it is about a French film/video photographer who becomes obsessive about documenting street artists at work and ultimately becomes a participating street/pop artist himself.  Banksy and well known American street artist Shepard Fairey play pivotal roles in the development of the storyline. The film addresses the bizarre conditions at play when street art becomes commercially valuable.  It questions the nature of art, artists, and the art market.  It can lead to some solid reality based questions for your students to consider.  What is it that we value about art?  What is illegal about graffiti? What makes something "good art" or "bad art?"  How important is originality in making art?  Can someone become an artist overnight? How does marketing impact the value of art?

Speaking of marketing, the DVD comes packed with a few fun extras: the star-shaped paper glasses that you see in the photo above, a couple of grafitti art postcards, and a couple of grafitti art stickers are included.

I really enjoyed this film and give it a solid A.

Artist Spotlight - Jay Shinn

Bi-Slanted V
stainless steel, latex paint, shadow
32" x 60" x 8"

Jay Shinn is an artists working and living in both Texas and New York.  Along with the other artists I have recently spotlighted, Shinn contributed to the “Silent Transmissions” exhibit that hung at the Cole Art Center in Nacogdoches Texas from Jan 28th – Mar 31st of 2012.  The works included by Shinn were 3 dimensional installations that were composed of stainless steel sculpture, painted shadows, and the variable actual shadows that were a function of lighting and daylight.  The resulting work is a form of tromp l’oeil that forces the viewer to really closely consider what he/she is seeing.  The painted shadows were so convincing that I viewed several of Shinn’s pieces before I recognized the visual trickery of Shinn’s technique.  To see more of Shinn’s hard-edged geometric art visit his website at http://www.jayshinn.com/ .