Feb 14 – Apr 06, 2013
This exhibition by Guy Ben-Ner (born 1969, Israel) marks 7 years since he last exhibited a solo show in Israel. During this period, Ben-Ner presented various solo and group exhibitions; he took part in the Münster sculpture project, was a guest of the DAAD Artists-in-Berlin Program, participated in the 2008 Liverpool Biennial, and held solo exhibitions at Mass MoCA in Massachusetts and Berlinische Galerie in Berlin. In 2008 Ben-Ner was awarded the Sandberg Prize for Israeli Art by the Israel Museum.
In this exhibition, Ben-Ner is showcasing two of his works: “Soundtrack”, a new piece making its debut in Tel-Aviv, and “Drop the Monkey”, a film created in 2009 and shown in the 9th Performa Festival for performance art in New York.
The inception of Ben-Ner ́s “Soundtrack” came from an 11-minute audio track of Steven Spielberg’s 2005 film “War of the Worlds”. Ben-Ner created a new film in which he uses the original “War of the Worlds” track as ready-made, leaving it unaltered. Both films exist simultaneously as Siamese twins, conjoined by sound. Ben-Ner names this audio-stealing technique “budding”, in contrast to dubbing.
Those familiar with Ben-Ner’s work will recognize elements typical of his films in “War of the Worlds”: using himself and his family members as subjects, parodying adventure stories and referencing popular culture, as well as film history and literature. Furthermore, he combines pseudo- cheap production – filming in the home environment, using simple props and, as mentioned, casting family members as actors – with well thought-out cinematography and editing work, that serve as main pillars of the film.
In “Soundtrack”, Ben-Ner revisits areas he explored several times in the past. In the last few years, he turned to dealing with subjects outside his family life, as this aspect of his life was undergoing dramatic changes. Returning to the “guts” of his home life demonstrates just how dynamic these materials are: his family structure has changed, his children have grown, and he now faces new challenges. As much as these complexities are exaggeratedly illustrated in Spielberg’s Hollywood spin on the story, referring to it succeeds in expressing the chaos that can sometimes exist in the most mundane tasks.
“Drop the Monkey”, 2009
“Drop the Monkey” is a film Ben-Ner was invited to make by the 2009 Performa Festival in New York.
He created a camera-produced film, in which the scenes were filmed in their final order and without any editing. Ben-Ner ́s work depicts a phone conversation, in which, on one end of the line, Ben-Ner is in Tel-Aviv and on the other he is in Berlin. This decision required him to fly back and forth between the cities in order to maintain the dialogue’s order, without editing the film.
Behind the film ́s proposal was a relationship in which Ben-Ner was involved at the time with a girlfriend living in Berlin. Their relationship was made possible through this unique production.
The basic thought leading the project was an idyllic dream of art being a slave to the artist’s personal life. Eventually, after his girlfriend left him, life became a slave to the film and he had to keep flying back and forth relentlessly in order to keep his commitments. The film became a burden, a “monkey on his back”.
All of this has brought the film ́s dialogue to be conducted as a fable told in rhymes, when the moral is – he who attempts to represent reality, finds reality changed by the attempt itself.