Please enjoy the blog post submitted by our fab summer intern Anna Thorup:
Tonight at 8pm, we will be screening the acclaimed documentary, Exit Through the Gift Shop as a part of our summer documentary film series. The Oscar-nominated film, that was directed by the well-known and enigmatic street artist who calls himself Banksy, provides a glimpse into the inner world of street art by documenting Thierry “Mr. Brainwash” Guetta’s unexpected rise to stardom. The film’s original purpose, as Banksy explains, was to show an honest depiction of the culture of street art and graffiti, shown through footage by the obsessive and ever-present Guetta who shadows and films Banksy and other artists’ every move, but evolved into the representation of Guetta’s climb to fame. The film is composed of a blend of raw footage, captured by Guetta, and a series of interviews with various street artists. Banksy himself also appears in the film, but protects his anonymity by shielding his face and altering his voice. Overall, it is a unique and amazing documentary that depicts a culture that is not well-known To understand the world of street art further, we were able to chat with the Roanoke-based graffiti artist, Toobz.
Toobz’s work is both fascinating and beautiful. While he uses spray paint as his main medium, he also sculpts, uses acrylics, pencils, and digital photography. “I really try to get my hands in anything I can,” he told me, “if I find something that’s working for the moment and achieving the visual I’m trying to create then that’s what I do ... I have pretty much just been observing things around me since I can remember and just trying to condition myself to understand shapes and the way light falls against things. It’s basically the way the artist is, it’s just something within me.” Talking with him is much like watching him paint as his words flow smoothly and capture a unique sense of precision and depth within every thought. I loved hearing about his personal artistic endeavors and was excited to get his thoughts about the film.
When asking him what he thought of the film he replied, “I think it’s good, I think it’s put together well.” He then went on to admit his distaste for Guetta and his belief that there are many other street artists like Banksy who have not yet been discovered. I then asked him if he thought the film would create more interest in the street art and graffiti culture, to this he replied, “I think it’s possible. I think it will influence a small wave, but I think there’s already a huge wave out there that no one knows about.” He continued on to talk about the early stages of street art, boiling its beginnings down to man’s desire to leave his name, and where he thinks it’s going based on the cultures new-found mass notoriety, “I have been into graffiti since about ’88 so I’ve seen it from where it started roughly from the understanding of the tools that we use and now it’s forming into – it’s going in a good way, I think rather than I bad way...I think all in all it’s going to make it stay… it’s been around forever, since the beginning of man basically and it’s always going to be here regardless of what style it is or what it turns into, there’s always going to be someone leaving their name.”