Guy Ben-Ner. Courtesy of Postmasters Gallery.
“Stealing Beauty” “I’d give it to you if I could but I borrowed it”
“Stealing Beauty” was completed during the artist’s DAAD residency in Berlin and received 2007 Kunst Film Biennale Award in Cologne in November. “I’d give it to you if I could but I borrowed it” is an installation originally commissioned for 2007 edition of Munster Sculpture Project shown there between June and September.
In both works Ben-Ner continues to use his family exploring, exposing and exploiting the relationship he has with his children. Do-It-Yourself playful “home movies” where deceptive simplicity hides complex, multilayered ideas are Ben-Ner’s unique calling card.
The meaning of owning, stealing, borrowing, taking and giving things away forms the conceptual core of the two works in the show.
“Stealing Beauty” 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.
“I’d give it to you if I could but I borrowed it” is Guy Ben Ner’s meditation on Munster – the city of thousands bicycles and the once-in-a-decade exhibition known for “treasure hunt” rides from one artwork to the next. Ben-Ner and the children reconstruct a bicycle by stealing parts from famous artworks in a museum: Duchamp’s wheel, Picasso’s handlebar, Tinguely’s frame, Beuys’ pump etc. They take the drug enchanced ride through Munster – the ride and the song they sing along appropriated from Rodney Graham’s Tiergarten video. “I’d give it to you if I could but I borrowed it” is presented on the screens attached to stationary bicycles. The video can be watched by pedaling the bike – it can be sped up, slowed down and watched in reverse, turning the control of the artwork to the viewer.