NORTH ADAMS, MA.-
Over the past decade Guy Ben-Ner has become known for a series of playful videos which often star the artist and his young children. The humorous, home-made films - which MASS MoCA
will present this summer in a major survey exhibition - have an authentic, do-it-yourself appeal, though their deceptive simplicity quickly reveals sophisticated cinematic and literary influences - ranging from the physical comedy of Buster Keaton and the humanist films of François Truffaut to literary classics such as Herman Melville's Moby Dick and Daniel Dafoe's Robinson Crusoe. With humor and pathos Ben-Ner re-tells these iconic stories of the individual's search for meaning and identity in relation to the influence of society's mores and traditions. Through these timeless tales he sheds light on contemporary philosophical and political issues while avoiding a didactic approach.Often exhibited with the simple sets and props created for the videos, Ben-Ner's work de-mystifies the creative process, symbolically inviting the viewer to move beyond the space of reception into the realm of production.
Underlying many of Ben-Ner's videos is the tension that exists between his dual roles as artist and father. Choosing to work at home when his first child was born, Ben-Ner has since incorporated his domestic life into his artistic practice. While he cleverly uses his everyday situation for material, Ben-Ner simultaneously addresses a sense of ambivalence and anxiety about the marriage of work and family. Themes of isolation, obsession, entrapment, and escape are explored hand-in-hand with the artist's investigation of the fertile role of adventure, play, and make-believe in the creative process - not to mention the routines of daily life.
Ben-Ner's work has been seen at P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, New York (2005), Sculpture Projekte, Muenster (2007), the Shanghai Biennale (2008) and was recently featured in the Liverpool Biennial (2008). The artist had had solo exhibitions at the Center for Contemporary Art, Tel Aviv (2006); Center for Contemporary Photography, Melbourne (2006); Museum of Montreal, Montreal (2007); and L'Espace Shawinigan of the National Gallery of Canada (2008).