"With the understanding that these are works about a family making a movie, like a play within a play, it is important that these movies have an impact on a real family, on real people, so that you, as a viewer will find it hard, sometimes, to know whether a specific scene belongs to the fictional part of the movie or not, if these are real father-son relationships you see there or just an act."
(Guy Ben-Ner, 2007)
Guy Ben-Ner is a video-installation artist and draughtsman who creates often humourous works that examine themes such as love, family and virility, and the conflicts between the individual and society. With an impressive economy of means, the artist casts himself and family members in narratives set in his own kitchen or in public spaces, using everyday objects as props. The resulting dramas blend fiction and reality, work and play, family life and art-making.
Ben-Ner studied to become an art teacher, receiving his Bachelor of Education in 1997 from Hamidrasha Art College, in Ramat Hasharon. He taught at various high schools and art colleges in Israel before moving to New York in 2001 to begin graduate studies. He received his Master of Fine Arts from Columbia University in 2003, and was awarded a one-year artist residency in Berlin in 2006.
Ben-Ner was still an undergraduate student when his first child was born, and soon came to recognize the difficulty of combining the artist's practice with domestic life. He began examining this conflict in some of his early works, continuing his inquiry after graduation, when he decided to continue working at home so as to take care of his daughter Elia. His video works delve deeply into the theme of family relationships. He frequently makes reference to other cinematic forms, especially silent film, as well as to the literary canon. In Treehouse Kit (2005), which includes an accompanying installation, Ben-Ner dismantles a tree sculpture, using the pieces to assemble furniture. In Stealing Beauty (2007) he and his family act out a domestic drama in a series of IKEA showrooms.
He came to international attention in 2005, when Treehouse Kit was shown at the Venice Biennale as Israel's official entry. He shared first prize in the International Competition category at the 2007 KunstFilm Biennale in Cologne. His work is held in numerous international collections. Guy Ben-Ner lives and works in Berlin and New York.