Born in 1969 in Ramat Gan (Israel) and degreed in Fine Arts in 1996, he moved to New York from 2001 to continue his studies at the Columbia University. Guy Ben-Ner's video works since 1996 are centered on his own performative presence and his relationship with his family.
Testing on his own private territory (both emotionally and physically) the different kinds of familial settings and circumstances, he brings his public to reflect upon universal values and behaviours which are produced by the connection between the social environment and the human being's natural attitudes.
Although shot at home and usually with his children, Ben-Ner's films are far from home movies. They are sequences of carefully planned scenes, each film is in fact preceded by a copious storyboard drawings. The interest in the works of the mid-1960 and early 1970s' body artists such as Bruce Nauman, Vito Acconci, and Dennis Oppenheim, and the fascination with filmic situations in which the director, the cameraman, the leading actor and the stuntman are all one and the same, led Ben-Ner to deepen his interest in the early films of Harold Lloyd, Charlie Chaplin, and specially Buster Keaton. The work of these pioneer filmmakers, in fact, influenced his films in different ways. "Especially significant for Ben-Ner were Keaton's accounts of his family life as a child, reflecting a total blurring of the boundaries between professional and private life, between the "home" and the "stage"" (Sergio Edelsztein).
Stealing Beauty (2007)
a boy comes home from school with a note indicating he was caught stealing money from his peer at school.
His family is put to the challenge to educate him about the meaning and border lines separating private property from its "other".
The movie starts as a TV "family sit-com", shot in IKEA "show rooms" in 3 different countries, without permission, and explores the ideas of private property, stealing and the family as a piggy bank (a social structure built in order to "keep property from leaking out").
the sitcom family is played out by a real family.
The apartment looks like a Tv set.
Like a family photo album it inhabits the one contradiction: It is very private yet the same everywhere for everybody.
But if in the classical American sitcom the economy is separated from the show (the commercial brake) as the great repressed of that genre- here the price tags, in view everywhere,make the two spheres collapse into a single one.
since we do not ask for permission to shoot the movie there, we need to find a different store-branch every time we get caught, and asked to leave, or stop the shootings.
"being caught", than, disturbs the movie's smooth continuity, but engenders more and more kitchens or living-rooms, to take part in one scene, as a visual catalog of ideal living spaces.
In this way the director allows the IKEA staff and workers to interfere, even dictate, the editing of the movie.
since we do not ask for permission everything is shot in secrecy, like an act of theft.
Sound becomes an issue.
Moby Dick (2007)
trapped between the whiteness of the whale and the terrifying whiteness of the kitchen, "Moby Dick" is a Slapstick version of the novel, performed by the artist and his daughter at home.
A second sea adventure that starts (as all sea adventures do) with the hero sailing away and leaving his family behind. yet another unfulfilled fantasy.
Wild Boy (2005)
The director and his son enact the typical narrative of a wild child and his education, as an allegory about the problematic of directing a child actor
The silent movie, like the mute boy, is being gradually tamed with sound and language.
Berkeley's Island (1999)
Just like daniel Defoe's "Robinson Crusoe", the director is stranded on a deserted island in the middle of the family kitchen - both as a punishment and as the fulfillment of a family-man's wish "to be alone".
The fantasy, and the movie, keep bumping unintentionally into reality.