About Exit Through the Thrift Shop

“[Photographs] are…able to usurp reality because first of all a photograph is not only an image, an interpretation of the real; it is also a trace, something directly stenciled off the real”

– Susan Sontag

The relationship between photography and reality has generated debate since the invention of the first cameras, and has become an increasingly important question for us all to consider given the advances in digital editing technology in recent years and the potential this has to alter our perception of ‘reality’.

When viewing photographs, whether it be in the news media, magazines, or even holiday snapshots our friends have made available online, it is all too easy to assume that what we are seeing is an accurate reflection of something ‘real’, even though we know very well that this is not necessarily the case.

The photographs in this project are all based on the work of the British street artist known as Banksy. Even to those unfamiliar with Banksy’s original paintings, the characters in the photos will be instantly recognisable, having been appropriated by Banksy from everyday life at home and on the street, as well as popular culture.

Whilst the characters may be familiar, Banksy has withdrawn them from their original context and placed them into a twisted new reality depicted in paint. Whilst they remain as paint, we accept that the images are no longer part of reality, but when, the images are transformed into photographs, the line between our reality and Banksy’s work becomes blurred.

The aim of this project is to examine the relationship between art, photography and reality. It is hoped the photographs will encourage the viewer to consider this relationship.

Who is Banksy? 

Banksy is the pseudonym of a British based street artist whose true identity remains unknown. Banksy is best known for his stenciled grafitti art that has appeared in public spaces, such as walls, in cities around the world from the early 1990s to the present day. This work often contains a dark humour and political or social commentary.

In January 2010, a film directed by Banksy, Exit Through the Gift Shop (from which this project draws its name), premiered at the Sundance film festival, and went to achieve considerable success at the box office and received an Oscar nomination for Best Documentary.

“Nothing in the world is more common than unsuccessful people with talent, leave the house before you find something worth staying in for.”

– Banksy

by Richard Southall

Banksy having his portrait sketched in New York City – Image from:  http://blog.nowallsgallery.com/2011/05/banksy-us-street-portrait.html