Guy Ben-Ner was born in Ramat Gan, Israel. He studied at Hamidrasha School of Art at Beit Berl College before going on to receive an MFA at New York’s Columbia University. The 2006 recipient of a DAAD Grant, Ben-Ner has exhibited at the Venice Biennial, Cincinnati’s Contemporary Art Center, P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center, and the Center for Contemporary Art in Tel Aviv.
Ben-Ner’s work explores the relationship between the artist and his family. Stealing Beauty (2007), completed with a DAAD Grant, starring Guy Ben-Ner’s wife and children, was shot inside IKEA model rooms. Comedy unfolds as IKEA customers encounter the family lounging in pajamas, preparing meals and bathing. Inspired by cinematic icons (Buster Keaton) and political thinkers (Frederic Engels and Edward Said), the video transgresses real and imaginary borders.
“The only proper way to pay [my children] back for their labor was to allow them to enjoy the end product. So I try to make movies that both you and my children could understand, even if on different levels. In any case I felt there is no reason not to extend that approach further – I would like to communicate with people, in general, and not only with the closed cycle of art people.” – Guy Ben-Ner on collaborating with his children (excerpt from, Flash Art, “Feeling Lured,” Maurizio Cattelan interviews Guy Ben-Ner, n.266 – 2009)
“Yes, [Stealing Beauty] is an example of a movie that costs nothing. And I stole the music too. It’s from commercials running on screens at IKEA Berlin. I recorded it straight to the camera. The idea for the movie came because the showrooms looked more like family-sitcom sets than houses people actually live in. So I lifted the veil. But if in the classical family sitcom the economy is separated from the show, here the price tags, in view everywhere, make the two spheres collapse into a single one.” - Guy Ben-Ner on creating Stealing Beauty (excerpt from, Flash Art, “Feeling Lured,” Maurizio Cattelan interviews Guy Ben-Ner, n.266 – 2009)
In 2009, Ben-Ner screened Drop the Monkey at Performa. In The New York Times, Karen Rosenberg writes, “Ben-Ner acts alone. Actually, he has a conversation with himself, via cellphone, as the film moves between Berlin and Tel Aviv. The conceit is simple yet effective: the action takes place in real time, and the film never leaves the camera, so Mr. Ben-Ner has to travel back and forth between cities.”