Artists' Television Access


Videos by Guy Ben-Ner

Friday, June 20, 2008, 8:00 pm, $6

Berkeleys Island.
In Berkeley’s Island

Moby Dick
Moby Dick

Stealing Beauty
Stealing Beauty

Wild Boy
Wild Boy

Guy Ben-Ner was born in Ramat Gam, Israel. He currently lives in New York.

 Stealing Beauty (2007) was shot without permission at numerous IKEA stores around New York, Berlin and Tel Aviv. In the movie the Ben-Ners quite naturally inhabit idealized showroom interiors with price tags dangling from furniture, and shoppers occasionally interrupting the family’s daily routines. Because of the hit-and-run filming, the traditional cinematic continuity is abandoned and the changing sets are stand-ins for their home. The narrative, however, remains linear as the father offers life lessons on the subjects of economic exchange, meaning of private property, ethics, and family love eventually leading to the children’s rebellious manifesto.

In Berkeley’s Island (1999) the first video to address his position of “domestic artist”, Guy Ben-Ner placed a small sandy island complete with a palm tree in the middle of the kitchen and became a shipwreck survivor living in solitude amidst domestic life going on around him. Through existential introspection combined with often hilarious use of resources that the kitchen set provides (“I learned to use what the island supplied me with”), “Berkeley’s Island” depicts the home environment as an exile and simultaneously as a place to escape from.

 Moby Dick (2000) adapts Herman Melville’s classic novel, a sprawling tale centered on Captain Ahab’s quest to exact revenge against the great white whale Moby-Dick. The video features Guy and his 6-year-old daughter play-acting in their home kitchen in ways that take to absurd extremes the aesthetic of family home videos. Using minimal props (a rope and a pole) Ben-Ner transforms the space into a make-believe ship – a playground for the reenactment of the classic tale.
Wild Boy (2004) tells the story of a wild child and his educator, a story of power relations and the fantasy of bringing somebody up after one’s own image. It is the story of every parent-child rearing, but more than that, it is a story of a director and his child-actor, raising the question of what it means to direct a child, to contain a child inside a fixed frame, to command him in and out of the frame (as if it is his private room).
On another level, it also raises the possibility of looking at early cinema (the “Cinema of attractions” as was coined by Tom Gunning), as a mute wild child that was tamed, eventually, by language (sound, narrative). “Wild boy” is based on several case histories, some myths, some educational manuals and is referring to a wide range of movies, from old photos left of the vaudeville acts by father and son, Buster and Joe Keaton, through Truffaut’s “Wild Child”, to “The Kid” by Chaplin.

Thanks to Postmasters Gallery in Chelsea for lending us Guy’s work

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