Archive for January, 2008

Guy Ben-Ner, “Stealing Beauty”

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Guy Ben-NerI’ve been a fan of Guy Ben-Ner’s work since first seeing it, about three years ago at what I think was his first Postmaster’s show and with each new video my admiration grows. The latest video that I thoroughly enjoyed is titled “Stealing Beauty” shot entirely at IKEA show rooms with his family. As in his past videos, Ben-Ner works with his kids to create narratives that question or deconstruct elements of our society.

“Stealing Beauty” features the traditional modern nuclear family unit. They go about regular daily activities, showering, sleeping, watching television, checking email, reading, washing dishes, sharing a meal, however throughout the 20 minute video is an ongoing discussion between the individuals. This is a discussion that primarily revolves around a lecture by Ben-Ner to his kids proclaiming the virtues of Capitalism:

“Private property creates borders… Some day this [the IKEA show room] will all be yours through inheritance… Love holds the family together and the family keeps the property from leaking out, family is like a big piggy bank,… Sharing is primitive… We evolved to rise on our feet and point at things to say this is mine. We freed our fingers to count…”
Guy Ben-Ner

As the video proceeds there are traces of rebellion by the daughter, she questions if she is owned by her parents, she demands her freedom and at one point Ben-Ner grounds her. The video concludes with the reading of a Manifesto by the children… “Children of the world unite” calling children to claim what they want, to steal from parents, to claim their free will.

Guy Ben-Ner

Although the water doesn’t flow from the sinks or shower head and the television and computer aren’t turned on, the family inhabits any number of IKEA show rooms as if everything functioned. They get into the beds, sit at the dinning room or in the living room and play out the script as shoppers walk by. At one point a woman peers into the video camera and pokes at it, someone behind the camera asks her to not touch the camera and re-positions it to focus on the co-opted stage.

Guy Ben-NerThe entire work is pieced together from any number of show rooms to the extent that a single exchange is assembled from various shoots. I left wondering if this was so, because they shot the video without permission and had to assemble the video from different IKEAs as they would be pulled from the show rooms. And indeed this is the case – it “was shot without permission at numerous IKEA stores around New York, Berlin and Tel Aviv.”

The dialogue doesn’t present any ground breaking ideas, however juxtaposing the script against the sets available at IKEA’s idealized show rooms is brilliant!

Written by ricardo

January 12th, 2008 at 9:01 pm

Posted in fine_arts,public_art